Remember that “risk” the Vikings took when they traded for Chiefs wild child Jared Allen back in the spring of 2008?
Turns out the reward carried a whole lot more weight.
Four Pro Bowls, three first-team All-Pro selections, 89½ sacks, 100 consecutive starts and not a single missed game later, Allen reached the end of the six-year, $73 million deal he signed in 2008. With two more sacks and what should have been a touchdown catch while playing a snap at tight end, Allen helped bring the Metrodome’s 32-season history to a close with a 14-13 victory over the Lions on Sunday.
Allen turns 32 on March 3 and the assumption is he will be moving on while the Vikings turn their attention to re-signing Allen’s younger heir apparent, 26-year-old Everson Griffen.
“I don’t know what will happen,” Allen said. “However it falls, I know that the last six years here have been amazing. I could not have asked for more. I’ll take some time to reflect. This isn’t just a one-sided decision.”
Allen finished the season strong, posting 6½ sacks in the final five games to reach double figures (11½) and lead his team in sacks for the seventh consecutive season. He credited the surge to a chapel service conducted by former Gophers athlete Tony Peterson, a former Olympic gold medal wrestler, before the game at Green Bay on Nov. 24.
“My life kind of changed for me in Green Bay,” Allen said. “He basically just gave a message on selling out on what you’re doing and not letting certain situations control your mindset.”
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave tried to give Allen a potential going-away present when he inserted Allen at tight end on first-and-goal from the 2-yard line with the Vikings leading 7-0 early in the second quarter.
Allen’s goals on the play were to sneak onto the field “nonchalantly” and “don’t fall down.” The first goal was blown when the public address announcer, per NFL rules, announced that “No. 69” had reported as an eligible receiver.
Allen joked that home-field advantage should have allowed him to sneak in unannounced. But even though the crowd rose to its feet, knowing that quarterback Matt Cassel was going to throw to Allen, the Lions still left him uncovered on his crossing route to the back of the end zone.
Unfortunately for Allen, Cassel missed the wide-open target, throwing wide right and denying Allen his third career touchdown catch and first since joining the Vikings.
The Vikings settled for the victory and two more sacks from a player who six years ago was considered by some in Kansas City to be immature and at risk of doing something to earn further punishment beyond the two-game suspension he served in 2007 for multiple drunken driving arrests.
“Coming here has all just been a blessing for me, for my family and more so just how much I’ve grown as a man,” Allen said. “I came here when I was 25 and compared to how I am now, it has been life-changing. I’ve met my wife, I got married, and now I have a daughter. It’s just been an absolute blessing.”