There are a lot of NFL players that struggle to find their identities after football. They are unsure of what to do with all of their free time. When something that consumed their everyday life for so long abruptly ends, they can’t seem to recover.
Jared Allen is definitely not one of those players.
After literally riding off into the sunset after a Super Bowl run with the Carolina Panthers in 2015, Allen has found plenty to keep himself busy. His family and two young daughters consume a lot of his time as well as all of his various projects. There’s The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen in Tempe, AZ that he helps run. He has his Pro Bull Team. But Allen’s biggest passion project has always been his Homes for Wounded Warriors foundation. The organization helps injured military veterans by building and remodeling homes suited specifically for their needs. JAH4WW has been one of our favorite charities at Daily Norseman for years; we have even put out a call to contribute in the past.
And when Allen isn’t running one of his various organizations or establishments, he’s busy giving VIP tours of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Well, sort of.
Allen teamed up with Courtyard Hotels for a special event that surprised Prentice Kugler, a huge Vikings fan and father of two teenage daughters, with the Father’s Day surprise of a lifetime. The incredible story was captured in the video above. Allen surprised Kugler and his girls as a special VIP tour guide, but the surprises were just beginning. Kugler was presented with his very own exhibit in the Vikings Hall of Fame. His father came out to give him a personalized Vikings jersey. And last but not least, Kugler learned that he and his family had tickets to see Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium next February.
Like Allen, I’m also a father to two daughters, so this video really hit home with me. It was great to see a beloved dad rewarded for his hard work. Jared was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes about the experience and what life has been like for him after football.
Once Allen learned about the chance to help do the video, he was all in.
When I got the opportunity to do this, I jumped at it. Once I read the script, I said “absolutely.” Being a dad is such an important part of my life—I actually have my little girl on my lap watching some YouTube videos right now. There were some similarities in our lives. He had two daughters and I had two daughters, and obviously he likes the Vikings and I played for the Vikings. The two just kind of fit together...For me doing this was a no-brainer. I’m all about bringing attention to people that are good fathers. Being a dad is such a huge responsibility and such a great opportunity. Anytime you can celebrate people doing it right, you gotta do it. There are so many statistics that show the difference a child has with a father in their life. When grown men take responsibility to be amazing dads, husbands, it really should be celebrated...Plus it was fun. I like surprising people.
Allen recalled how Kugler was either playing it cool or simply taken aback by the whole experience. “You can’t really tell by his reaction in the video but apparently he was a big fan of mine,” Allen joked. “I think he was just so overwhelmed with what was going on.”
Allen shared a fun behind-the-scenes story from the video as well:
I don’t think they showed it in the video, but there’s one point where he literally misses some collages of his family on display at the Vikings Hall of Fame. He was just too enamored with this Vikings video going on instead. You could tell there was this sense of bewilderment. The best part was when he finally realized the stuff in the exhibit was actually his! Honestly it was really fun. It was so genuine and it made the whole day absolutely worth it.
With so many non-football related activities in Allen’s life, I wondered how much he keeps tabs on the NFL, especially his old team and teammates in Minnesota. For those that know the kind of person Jared is, the answer probably won’t surprise you: not much. But he was hopeful after the Vikings’ 5-0 start in 2016.
I didn’t watch hardly any football last year. If guys I knew were playing I’d catch a game or catch the tail end. I do have to admit, I was a total bandwagon Vikings fan last year. When they were 5-0, I was all about it. And when they lost  of the last 11, I just sort of shook my head. [Laughs] I hate to admit that but I was still proud of our guys.
Allen saw a lot of promise in the Vikings last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
[Danielle] Hunter had a phenomenal year last year. I’m really excited to see the kind of player and man that Everson [Griffen] has become. Obviously B-Rob [Brian Robison] is doing well, and of course Chad [Greenway] just retired after a great run. I try to keep up with the guys I know. There are a lot of guys in Carolina I talk to still.
So now that he’s retired from football and not watching much of it these days, what’s a typical day like in the life of Jared Allen?
I’m usually up pretty early. Get my coffee, get my news in. Try to get a workout in. We’ve got so much going on with our foundation. I joke all the time that I need to go back to [the NFL] so I can get a day off! Because now I got no excuse not to be at all these meetings for my foundation anymore. Other than that, I’ll try to sneak some golf in, and obviously the most important thing is hanging out with the fam. I just make sure I’m not around too much where I bother everybody.
As we closed the interview, Allen reiterated that our readers check out the video and celebrate fathers “doing it the right way.” For someone that had a tumultuous few years at the beginning of his NFL career, it’s incredibly encouraging to see Jared Allen doing his post-football life the right way.