Legendary Vikings Pass Rusher Named HOF Semifinalist for 3rd Time
As a former resident of the great state of Idaho, I have heard plenty of stories about the Idaho State football teams of the early 2000s. Typically, these stories came from older men drinking Coors Light on their porch. While there are always plenty of characters, the tales cannot be told without including one man in particular. This man is of course, the legendary Vikings pass rusher, Jared Allen.
Allen man has formed a bond between those Idahoan porch beers and Minnesota Vikings fans, and thus, me as well. While he wasn’t ever able to bring either group a championship, he has always been a fan favorite. And most recently, he has been named a semi-finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week.
This is the third consecutive year that Allen has been a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame, and in the first two years of eligibility, he made it all the way to the finals. However, he is yet to reach the pinnacle and receive his gold jacket. This time around, he joins 28 other modern era players. There are also five first-year eligible candidates that have made it:
- OT Joe Thomas
- CB Darrelle Revis
- OL Jahri Evans
- DL Dwight Freeney
- OLB James Harrison
If you asked someone who has been watching football for the past 10-15 years to think of Jared Allen, they would picture him in a Vikings uniform. While we all associate him with the Vikings, Allen was actually drafted in the fourth round of the 2004 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
His career got off to a quiet, yet productive start. He only started ten games in his rookie year with the Chiefs, but he recorded nine sacks. Allen moved into a full time starting role in 2005, and he immediately made a huge impact, recording 11 sacks and forcing six fumbles.
Allen truly broke headlines in 2007 when he recorded a league leading 15.5 sacks. However, his life off the field quickly became just as much of a headline due to two separate DUI charges during 2006. A third would result in a year-long suspension from the NFL.
The relationship between Allen and the Chiefs franchise came to a head after the 2007 season where the Chiefs went an abysmal 4-12 despite Allen’s All-Pro level of play. The budding star no longer wanted anything to do with a rebuilding franchise and requested a trade.
The Minnesota Vikings soon came to a deal with the Chiefs to acquire the star defensive end, offering a first-round pick, two third rounders, and a sixth rounder. Minnesota then offered Allen a six-year, $31 million contract.
Seems like the equivalent of pulling change out of the car cup holder to pay for that Big Mac meal when you look at what All-Pro players get paid today.
Vikings fans know where the story goes from here. The Vikings won the division each of the next two years and were an overtime away from making the Super Bowl in 2009.
In Allen’s six years with the Vikings, the team made three postseason appearances, and Allen never had fewer than 11 sacks. His dominance from the defensive end position came to the peak of its powers in 2011 when he recorded 22 sacks, just half a sack behind Michael Strahan’s single season record of 22.5.
Allen without question contributed to a new winning culture in Minnesota, who had made the postseason just one time in the seven years prior to Allen’s arrival to the the team. 2008 and 2009 were also the first back-to-back division titles for Minnesota since the era of the Purple People Eaters.
The Vikings have made the postseason six of the 12 years since Allen’s arrival. Obviously, Allen isn’t solely responsible for everything that has happened, but he clearly played a huge part in Minnesota’s return towards relevance.
Prior to the 2014 season, Allen signed a 4-year, $32 million deal with the Bears that Vikings fans held against him at the time, but secretly, they were probably happy to see him go before his career declined. For a real trip back in time, take a look at this gem from Vikings Territory and Arif Hasan covering the signing.
Allen started 15 games in 2014, but he recorded just 5.5 sacks for the Bears. Two games into the 2015 season, Chicago traded him to Carolina where he made his first and only Super Bowl with the Panthers but lost to the Denver Broncos. On April 14, 2016, Allen signed a one-day deal with the Vikings and officially announced his retirement from football.
In the end, Allen finished his career with five Pro Bowls as well as a quartet of First Team All-Pro nominations. The star defensive end recorded 136 sacks, which ranks 12th all-time in the NFL. He also recorded 32 forced fumbles, which is the 23rd most in NFL history.
This is just the second honor that Allen has received this season. Over the Halloween weekend, Allen was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor. During the ceremony, he pulled the badass move of riding onto the field on horseback.
Allen’s success and connection to winning throughout his NFL career should make him an NFL Hall of Famer at some point. Perhaps he will get that coveted gold jacket as part of the 2023 class.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.