While Jared Allen was a member of the Minnesota Vikings for six seasons, he was impossible to ignore. On the field, he was one of the best defensive ends of his generation. In 96 games he amassed 85.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, and even had 4 interceptions. He was an unstoppable force off the edge that always had to be accounted for. If you didn't, chances are you'd be seeing his signature calf roping celebration.
He may have been even more noticeable off the field. Allen has always been a sound bite machine, providing masterfully witty and humorous quotes. His unique fashion sense and hairstyles always turned heads, as if being 6'6" and built like an NBA power forward weren't enough already. His love of all things outdoors and heavy involvement in the Wounded Warriors Project made him an easy fan favorite throughout his time in Minnesota.
When the Vikings acquired Allen from the Kansas City Chiefs, it was a big risk. While Allen's abilities were never in question, he had a reputation for being a partier and a bit of a loose cannon. Minnesota also gave up quite a bounty to get him: Kansas City sent Allen and a sixth round draft pick in 2008 for the No. 17 overall pick, two third round picks and a sixth round pick. Then they signed him to a six-year contract, which at the time was the richest contract for a defensive player in NFL history.
The risk definitely paid off. In an era where the last few years of most big contracts might as well be written on toilet paper, Allen was the rare case that played out the entirety of a blockbuster deal.
The Vikings and Allen parted ways after the deal concluded in 2013. Allen wanted one more big deal and a run at a Super Bowl ring. The Vikings were coming off a 5-10-1 season that got Leslie Frazier fired and they (rightfully) believed that the defensive end was no longer worth top dollar. It hurt to see Allen in a Bears uniform for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it looked like Allen was never going to get a shot at a ring.
But then early into the 2015 season, Allen was traded from Chicago to the undefeated Carolina Panthers. Number 69's productivity had definitely dipped but it was amazing to see our old buddy finally getting his shot at the title.
Of course ultimately Allen and the Panthers fell short of their goal, but it was fun to see Allen involved in one last run. He nearly got to go out on top.
While winning a Super Bowl is the ultimate mic drop to end a career, Allen came pretty darn close when he took to Twitter to announce his retirement on Thursday:
Riding off into the sunset pic.twitter.com/wZXovseGKS— Jared Allen (@JaredAllen69) February 18, 2016
Bravo, Jared. There couldn't be a more perfect way for one of the most memorable football personalities to (almost literally) ride off into the sunset. You will always be one of my favorite players to don the purple and gold. Speaking of gold, I think we'll be seeing you put on a jacket of that color in Canton in the early part of the next decade.