In the spring of 2008, the Kansas City Chiefs traded defensive end Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings.
The move was a bit of a shock to fans of both teams as Allen had just totaled 15.5 sacks for the Chiefs in 2007.
During the next six seasons, Allen continued to post double-digit sacks each year for Minnesota and was considered one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL.
Jared Allen had 136 sacks in 12 seasons!!! Includes 22 in 2011 just a half sack shy of the NFL record!
— TimeoutSPORTS__ (@TimeoutSPORTS3) February 2, 2021
When he first entered the league in 2004, Allen was a virtually unknown player from Division I-AA Idaho State University.
However, even in college, Allen displayed his talent for terrorizing quarterbacks with an astounding 17.5 sacks as a senior and a total of 38.5 for his career.
The always colorful Allen retired in 2016, and recently, he has spent time competing in curling and hopes to compete in the sport for the Olympics.
This is the story of Jared Allen.
A Cowboy at Heart
Jared Scot Allen was born on April 3, 1982, in Dallas, Texas.
The Allen family moved from Texas to Morgan Hill, California, (near San Jose) when Jared was young.
The family lived on a horse ranch and Jared took to riding the steeds as often as possible.
His upbringing as an outdoorsman and horse-riding aficionado would figure prominently in his life.
Some of y’all forgot that Jared Allen is an avid outdoorsman and once killed an Elk with a spear. I also heard he knifed a wild boar. That’s who I want in my corner.
— Justin R. Jones (@jrjones1985) February 10, 2022
However, during elementary school, Jared told his father he wanted to be a pro football player.
His father shared that, in order for that to happen, Jared would have to dedicate his life to achieving that goal.
From then on, Jared Allen put everything he had into becoming an NFL player.
As a football player for Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Allen started growing into his eventual 6’6”, 270-pound frame.
He became a nearly unstoppable force for the Acorns and received a number of scholarship offers from several large schools.
During his junior year, Allen gave a verbal commitment to the University of Washington.
Unfortunately, those plans were soon derailed.
A Theft Alters Allen’s Life
Shortly after making his verbal commitment to Washington, Allen was found guilty of theft after he and some friends stole yearbooks and then sold them for profit.
Allen didn’t turn in his friends and accepted all the blame.
“We thought it was funny,” Allen told The Athletic. “It obviously turned out not to be funny.”
The results were drastic as Allen was expelled from Live Oak, and the Huskies no longer wanted him.
To make matters worse, the other colleges that were interested in Allen also stopped recruiting him once news of his malfeasance came to light.
Because of his expulsion from Live Oak, Allen transferred to Los Gatos High School before his senior year.
Los Gatos High School (Los Gatos, CA)
— Prep2ProDB (@Prep2ProDB) February 12, 2022
During his lone year playing for the Wildcats, Allen humiliated opposing quarterbacks with 12 sacks and forced five fumbles. He also accumulated 96 tackles.
He was named Los Gatos’s team MVP, a first-team All-League, Player of the Year, selected to play in a high school all-star game, and appeared in Sports Illustrated’s “Who’s Who.”
Allen eventually became a member of the Los Gatos Football Hall of Fame.
Despite his outstanding year, Division I colleges were still apprehensive about offering him a scholarship due to perceived character issues.
Idaho State Comes Calling
Larry Lewis arrived in Pocatello, Idaho in 1999, hoping to turn around the fortunes of the Idaho State football team.
The program won an I-AA national title in 1981 but had only three winning seasons thereafter.
Lewis saw an opportunity to bring in Allen, who should have been competing at the Division I level.
The coach was aware of Allen’s yearbook incident but thought that he deserved a second chance and offered him a scholarship.
Allen accepted, but soon after arriving in Pocatello, wished he had gone elsewhere.
He complained that California kids were looked down on and considered transferring to USC.
Before making any decisions, Allen’s father insisted that Jared speak to the ISU coaches.
By the end of the conversation, Allen decided to stay in Idaho.
Initially, Allen was going to redshirt his first year, but he decided not to and played during the 2000 season.
Jared Allen, Idaho State pic.twitter.com/VZrL9ktieK
— celebratewewill (@celebratewewil1) July 8, 2022
Although he didn’t start, Allen still saw enough time on the field that he tallied 39 tackles, four sacks, and an interception for the 6-5 Bengals.
His play garnered enough attention that Allen received a Big Sky Conference honorable mention.
Allen Comes into His Own
In 2001, Allen started and continued showing flashes of great promise even as ISU was suffering through a 4-7 record.
By the end of his sophomore year, Allen became first-team All-Conference with 49 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and a pick.
He repeated his All-Conference honors as a junior in 2002 with 63 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, seven passes defended, and an interception.
The Bengals put together an 8-3 season that year, the most wins by the program since 1983 and Allen was a large part of the turnaround.
Idaho State, Defensive End 2000-2003 pic.twitter.com/eKOKifSBSj
— Random College Athletes (@RandomAthletess) October 29, 2022
He was a wild man on the field, nearly impossible to stop, and full of infectious energy.
Allen also found himself on the wrong side of the law again that year when his wild man persona got the best of him away from the field.
In May of 2002, police pulled him over and charged him with a DUI.
The Pocatello police department already knew the ISU terror well as he was a frequent brawler in the town’s bars.
In addition to his DUI, Allen had previously been arrested three times for both battery and resisting arrest.
There was no doubt that Allen had a bit of a bad boy streak, but his coaches and teammates loved his engaging nature.
As a senior in 2003, Allen had his best season by far as a Bengal.
While ISU was in the midst of an 8-4 record (just missing the playoffs for the second year in a row), he led the nation in several categories including sacks (17.5), tackles for loss (28), and forced fumbles (6).
Allen also had 102 total tackles and nine passes defended.
Although ISU didn’t make the playoffs, Allen became the first Big Sky Conference player to win the Buck Buchanan Award for the best defensive end in Division I-AA.
— Vintage LSU Football (@vintagelsuftb) April 3, 2016
He also brought home more accolades including first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Sky.
During his college career, Allen totaled 250 total tackles, 71 tackles for loss, 38.5 sacks, 26 passes defended, three interceptions, 13 forced fumbles, and seven fumble recoveries.
His sack totals set Bengals records for most in a single season and most in a career.
Allen may have been a huge deal at ISU and in Division I-AA, but NFL scouts weren’t entirely sold on him.
First, he had a reputation as a party animal that resulted in several arrests in college.
Then, there was the fact that he made mincemeat of quarterbacks at a lower level.
However, while playing for the Bengals as a defensive end, Allen had long snapped for the team and did very well.
In the pre-draft process in the spring of 2004, many scouts believed Allen was the best long snapper in the country and could make a pro team based on that position alone.
Brooks: Most don't realize that Jared Allen was evaluated as a Long Snapper coming out of Idaho State pic.twitter.com/4qmZ5LV5Kt
— Siva Kodali (@kodali_siva) February 19, 2016
As a defensive line prospect, however, those same scouts weren’t quite sold.
“Maybe a year away as a player but the best deep snapper in this draft. Fifth round solely on that. 254 pounds at the East-West Shrine Game, not strong enough yet,” said one NFL scout.
“Needs to mature physically,” said an NFL defensive line coach. “Handled himself well at the East-West Shrine Game. Fourth or fifth round.”
“Narrow base, doesn’t play with power or leverage,” observed another scout. “Doesn’t string moves together very well. No closing burst, struggles to double back. Limited balance, on the ground a lot. Fourth or fifth round (value).”
The mid-round speculation turned out to be spot on.
With the 126th pick in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Kansas City took Allen.
Allen Proves His Worth
Not long after the Chiefs drafted him, Allen was ready to show the world what he could do and why it was dangerous to underestimate him.
“I don’t sense that feeling of entitlement from the I-AA players because everyone is telling you that you came from an inferior conference, that the level of competition isn’t the same,” said Allen. “When you come from a smaller league, you are willing to do more and that keeps you in the NFL. You’re not settling for the fact that you’ve made a little money. You have to keep pushing, keep continuing to strive because no matter what, you’ll never be like the FBS player is. Playing in the Big Sky gave me a constant chip on my shoulder.’’
By the end of his rookie training camp, the Chiefs coaches realized that using Allen as just a long snapper would be a waste of his abilities.
The chip Allen had on his shoulder led him to 10 starts, 31 combined tackles, nine sacks (which led the team), and a place on the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
Revisit the #Chiefs 4th round draft picks of the last 2 decades including Jared Allen
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) April 13, 2014
Then, in 2005, he started 15 games and had 58 total tackles, five passes defended, and 11 sacks, further proving that his Idaho State sack totals were no fluke.
More Legal Trouble Helps Turn Allen’s Life Around
Just when it looked like his legal troubles were a thing of the past, Allen was arrested for a DUI in May of 2006.
He promised to abstain from alcohol and further incidents but backslid in October of that year and was arrested for yet another DUI.
At that point, Allen realized he was wasting his life and his potential as an athlete.
With the help of his parents, agent, and friends, Allen committed to turning his life around for good.
On the field, he led the NFL with six fumble recoveries while netting 76 tackles, 15 quarterback hits, one interception, 10 passes defended, and 7.5 sacks.
He's not the most exciting player or the best player but he's exactly what the #Chiefs need right now. Put prime Jared Allen on Kansas City this season and they are instantly Super Bowl favorites https://t.co/9TyG4gkRfT pic.twitter.com/swxttAL7nV
— Jim Scheffres (@JimScheffres) August 19, 2022
The following spring, a court ordered Allen to spend two days in jail as a result of his DUIs. The NFL suspended him for four games in 2007 before changing the total to two games after an appeal.
Kansas City appreciated the fact that Allen was getting help for his alcohol dependency, but the team refrained from giving him a new long-term contract.
Instead, the organization gave Allen a one-year deal and ordered him to undergo NFL-mandated counseling.
“It was good self-discovery,” Allen said in 2008. “Alcohol was obviously a problem because I was always getting in trouble with it. So I figured, let’s cut it out.”
A renewed look at life began paying off immediately for Allen.
He began a different workout routine and stayed away from alcohol, leading to increased energy and a loss of unwanted weight.
Allen returned from his suspension in Week 3 of the 2007 season against the Minnesota Vikings and snagged two sacks and eight tackles, helping the Chiefs to win its first game of the year.
Jared Allen Kansas City chiefs pic.twitter.com/Ds5uQFhCxs
— Cody Hartl (@cody_hartl14) October 25, 2016
Allen then made it his mission to destroy the will of opposing quarterbacks. He ended his fourth NFL season with a league-leading 15.5 sacks, 65 tackles, 19 tackles for loss (which also led the NFL), and 11 passes defended.
At last, Allen’s peers recognized his skills and voted him to his first Pro Bowl and as a first-team All-Pro.
Trade to Minnesota
Allen had proven his worth to the Chiefs organization with an outstanding year in 2007.
However, team president Carl Peterson was still hesitant to offer his defensive end a huge long-term contract.
He offered Allen a one-year franchise tag offer of $8.8 million, but Allen didn’t sign it right away, keeping the door open for other teams.
During the negotiations with Chiefs’ management, Allen’s teammates were troubled that the team wasn’t more committed to him.
“When I heard the rumor that we were going to trade him, I thought it was crazy,” said veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez. “Besides what he does on the field, he has become the whole package, the true sense of the word professional. He’s big in the community, and he’s got a big heart.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota had seen enough of Allen during his Week 3 clinic against them in 2007 that the organization began looking into signing him.
The Vikings were abysmal in rushing the passer in 2007 and wanted to bring in help.
Coach Brad Childress spent several weeks digging into Allen’s background and came away assured that he had turned a corner with his alcohol consumption.
Jared Allen right after the #Vikings acquired him in 2008.
One of the best trades in team history. pic.twitter.com/K9YAhnLEuH
— Ali Siddiqui (@asiddiqui15) July 30, 2022
Minnesota was so sure they were getting one of the best defensive ends in football that they made a trade with Kansas City and gave the Chiefs draft picks in exchange for Allen.
“It was a crazy deal because I never wanted to leave Kansas City. I loved the fan base. I loved everything about that,” Allen said. “I just felt like the organization wasn’t giving me the same I was giving them.”
The Vikings then signed Allen for six years and $73.3 million with a $15.5 million signing bonus, the best deal in NFL history for a defensive player.
“We felt comfortable enough that he would not only benefit us on the football field,” said Vikings vice president of personnel Rick Spielman, “but he’d also be an asset to the community.”
Before suiting up for Minnesota, Allen was optimistic about what his new team could accomplish.
“I think we’re contenders for the next few years,” he said. “We’ve got a solid O-line, a helluva running back [Adrian Peterson], a great defense.”
Sure enough, the Vikings went 10-6 in 2008 after two mediocre seasons to begin Childress’s tenure.
Allen had 54 tackles, an NFL-best two safeties, 14.5 sacks, and brought home first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections.
Which DE had the more dominant #Vikings career?
— VikingNations (@VikingNations) June 10, 2017
Minnesota went to the playoffs and faced Philadelphia in the Wild Card round.
During the contest, Allen had three tackles and two sacks in a 26-14 loss.
In 2009, he repeated with Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors while taking down quarterbacks 14.5 times, netting 51 tackles, one safety, one interception, and recording his first and only score as a pro when he took a fumble recovery 52 yards for a touchdown.
The Vikings posted a 12-4 record and demolished Dallas in the Divisional round, 34-3, before losing to New Orleans in overtime of the NFC Championship game.
Allen Nearly Breaks the NFL Sack Record
While playing football, Allen maintained his enthusiasm for outdoor fun.
Allen brought his love of horseback riding and rodeo to the field as well.
Whenever he made a big play, especially sacking a quarterback, Allen would bend down and twirl his arm a few times in a motion similar to calf roping.
This is the coolest sack celebration since Jared Allen’s rodeo one pic.twitter.com/FqoqyyPMVK
— Taylor 😈 (@TBar7) October 13, 2019
In 2011, he had several opportunities to use his special celebration.
Although the Vikings were having a rough 3-13 season under new head coach Leslie Frazier, Allen had an NFL-best 22 sacks.
The total was a half sack away from tying Michael Strahan’s NFL record of 22.5 sacks during the 2001 season.
— Ali Siddiqui (@asiddiqui15) September 21, 2016
Additionally, Allen had yet another safety, 66 total tackles, career-highs in tackles for a loss (21) and quarterback hits (32), one interception, and four fumble recoveries.
Frazier got the Vikings back on track in 2012 and the team won 10 games before losing to Green Bay in the Wild Card round.
That season, Allen went to his final Pro Bowl after getting 46 tackles and 12 sacks.
Allen Becomes a Bear
During his time in Minnesota, Allen never missed a game, and for the sixth year in a row, he had double-digit sacks in 2013 with 11.5 and also had six passes defended and 52 tackles.
After the 2013 season, he became a free agent and Minnesota decided not to keep him.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 31, 2014
He stayed within the NFC North Division and signed with the Chicago Bears in March of 2014 for four years and $32 million.
“I have a lot left in this tank,” Allen said. “My body feels good. And again, I feel like I can make waves. And not for me, personally. I want to win a Super Bowl. What attracted me here is the opportunity to go out and win it, to earn it and win it and be a part of it and be a piece of that puzzle.”
Chicago won only five games that season while Allen had 57 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
He began the 2015 season with Chicago before the organization traded him to the Carolina Panthers in late September.
Allen Plays in His First Super Bowl Before Retiring
The trade to Carolina turned out to be the perfect cap for Allen’s career.
He joined a team that was first in the NFL in offense behind quarterback Cam Newton and sixth overall in defense.
During the 2015 season, Allen started 12 games with the Panthers and had two sacks and 27 tackles.
Carolina lost only once during the regular season and then dispatched Seattle and Arizona in the playoffs before playing the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were only down 16-10 before Peyton Manning led his Broncos to a 24-10 victory.
— EndZoneScore.com (@OPSN_NFL) February 1, 2016
Allen had one tackle during the contest.
Two weeks later, he retired from the NFL by posting on his Twitter account that he was “riding off into the sunset.”
Then, on April 14, 2016, Jared Allen signed a one-day contract with Minnesota to retire as a Viking.
“In my heart, when it was all said and done, I knew I wanted to retire as a Viking,” Allen said.
During his pro career, Allen had 648 tackles, 228 quarterback hits, four safeties, 136 sacks, 19 fumble recoveries (including one returned for a touchdown), 32 forced fumbles, 58 passes defended, and six interceptions.
Jared Allen has announced his retirement.
31 FF, 19 FR pic.twitter.com/YQmq9vmp2k
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) February 18, 2016
He was a PFWA All-Rookie Team member, four-time first-team All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowler, and NFL sack leader twice.
Allen shares an NFL record with three other players for most safeties in a career (4).
Allen has been named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings and was voted into the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor in 2022.
Jared Allen rode in on a horse for his Ring of Honor induction 🐴😅
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 30, 2022
During the Ring of Honor ceremonies, Allen rode into Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium riding a horse and wearing a purple sports jacket.
Curling Becomes Allen’s New Passion
Since his retirement, Allen has been in frequent discussions about his bona fides for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He has also been busy with his charity work that includes Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors and the “Sack Diabetes” program that Allen uses in conjunction with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
In early 2018, Allen and three other former NFL players teamed up to compete in competitive curling.
Former #Vikings great Jared Allen formed an ex-NFL players curling team that beat Olympic champions at the U.S. Championships on Sunday night.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 6, 2023
The former NFL jocks never fared well, but Allen stuck with it and eventually joined a group of former Olympians.
Now playing with more experienced athletes, the team has won several competitions including beating the top-ranked team in the nation.
Their goal is to compete in the Olympic Games and come away with a medal.
“We’ve had some good runs,” Allen says. “Our biggest challenge for the next year will be consistency. We know we can play with anybody. Now we need to win when it matters most.”