In some ways, you can't be too upset about the news that Jared Allen and the Minnesota Vikings have officially parted ways. First off, if you didn't see this coming then you're blinder than Stevie Wonder trying to hit a piñata. (Well... blinder than Stevie Wonder doing anything, really.) We never made a move to extend him in his final year, and even tried to trade him just before the deadline in-season. And it's not a bad move, either. Allen, for as phenomenal as he has been for us, has been in the decline, and simply wanted too much money to stay. Not to mention, choosing between an aging veteran and young talent at the same position (Everson Griffin) really isn't much of a choice for most teams, particularly those with no immediate shot at the Super Bowl. It is what it is, as they say, and there was just no way we were going to keep Allen.
But while you can't logically be too upset, there's absolutely no shame in feeling a sting over this. In fact, if you don't have at least a twinge of regret, then I can't imagine what player you've been watching over the past few years- both on and off the field. Allen was a hard working, clean living, leader-of-the-team who, at least until last season, was always so damn exciting to watch because you knew each and every snap could end in a sack. He encouraged his teammates to fight to the bitter end no matter the course of the game, and at the same time he encouraged the dome to keep getting louder- he wanted the fans as invested as he was. He had a relentless motor and would never give up on getting his man. Hell, in 2011, he was about the only thing we really had worth rooting for. Even last year, a down year that began to show his skills were rusting and fading, he kept a proud tradition of double-digit sacks alive.
And that was just on the field. As much as you could enjoy an hour or two of watching game highlights of the guy, you could equally enjoy youtubing his antics off of it. An upbeat guy who loved his fans and loved his team, there was never an opportunity for a joke that he wouldn't take. And his good humor aside, he was a champion for our wounded heroes with his charity, the Home For Wounded Warriors. While many top-paid NFL stars have their charities, Allen was definitely one of the types who took a very personal involvement in it, from the fundraising to the actual work necessary. And as great as this charity is, it's actually his second- he's also very involved in juvenile diabetes, raising money for research through his Sack Diabetes program.
And it seems it's forgotten at times, but the truth is, Allen is also a redemption story. There was a good reason the Kansas City Chiefs did not extend him long-term and then traded him (admittedly at a steep price) to us- he had three DUIs, including two in just the span of a few months. For someone who seemed to be a typical ‘overpaid jock moron', he managed to wholeheartedly turn around his life. The man hasn't had a single legal incident since his time in jail following the third arrest, and he has committed to a life of sobriety in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past. And by all accounts, the man is a loving and devoted husband and father- proof positive that the Vikings not only made a great choice on the field with their trade, but also got someone who proved to be a class act citizen and true representative of the franchise.
But, again, this is the NFL- pure awesomeness is not enough to keep you around forever. (If it was, the Vikings would have extended this guy into his 80's.) The situation was untenable for the long haul and the writing has been on the wall for quite some time now. The Vikings ultimately have made the right move here (the overall risk of Everson Griffin's contract size notwithstanding), but I for one salute Allen for his time here in Minnesota, and will always have a special place in my heart and memories for his time in purple and gold.
And, as it sure sounds like right now, Allen feels the same about the Vikings. I sure do look forward to the day he returns for his retirement, at which point this man has long cemented his place in our Ring of Honor and most likely the Hall of Fame. In the meantime, as always, I wish him luck with his new team- except, of course, against us.
SKOL Jared Allen. Thanks for the memories. And to wrap this up, one of my personal favorite videos of Allen for your viewing pleasure.