MINNEAPOLIS - Jared Allen thought he was just invited to attend a Minnesota Vikings training camp practice at U.S. Bank Stadium, and speak to the team after about his time in the NFL and in Minnesota.
The former defensive end spent Friday afternoon watching practice, talking with the ownership group and meeting new head coach Kevin O’Connell. He got to speak to the team after, and O’Connell both planned and got to be part of the surprise that Allen was becoming the 27th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor. They played a highlight reel on the jumbotron at U.S. Bank Stadium before delivering the news.
"No idea at all. It was very humbling, probably the only way they could ever get me back to go to training camp again," Allen joked Saturday from TCO Performance Center. "I was completely shocked. It was already a great honor to come and speak to the team, talk to the new regime and all that good stuff. Completely shocked, it’s just humbling just to know that the work I did here so many years ago stands the test of time."
Allen spent six seasons with the Vikings after being traded to Minnesota in 2008. He earned three All-Pro honors, and was a four-time Pro Bowl pick. Allen set the Vikings record for sacks in a season with 22 in 2011, a mark that’s also tied for third in NFL history. His 136 career sacks is 12th in NFL history. Allen is also tied for the NFL record with four career safeties, all with the Vikings.
He was a fan-favorite for his calf-roping celebration after every sack.
"This is where I wanted to be. When I asked to be traded, this is where I wanted to come. I knew about Kevin and Pat (Williams) and the defense that was here. I knew about Adrian (Peterson), I knew the potential was here, that’s why I wanted to come. It was the commitment they were showing to me, that’s what was lacking in Kansas City," Allen said. "I just wanted to play for an organization that believed in me as much as I believed in them."
O’Connell was just as excited and humbled to be involved in the process of the surprise.
"To be a part of that as a first-time head coach while also still having him deliver a great message to our team that was really, really special in that setting. To get to be a part of surprising him and forming a relationship with him, I’ve talked about Vikings legends and he is definitely one of them with what he was able to do during his six years here, that’s really important to me," O’Connell said. "I hope that in the not too distant future we’re talking about Jared Allen making his way to Canton, Ohio."
Allen will be inducted to the Vikings Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 30, when the Vikings host the Arizona Cardinals.
He’ll join the likes of Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, Kevin Williams, Chris Doleman, Alan Page and John Randle.
"I’ve got a special place in my heart for Jim Marshall. Being a part of that iconic line with Kevin and Pat. Carl Eller, Allen Page, Kevin Williams, that’s my guy. Hopefully they put me up there right next to him," Allen said. "Jim told me something when I first got here, he said all the stats, players come and go. Those banners last forever. That was really a motivating factor for me to try and hang banners. Just to be a part of history. The Vikings have a rich history of D-line, and to be a part of that and now be up there with the greats, I can’t describe how humbling and special it is."
What was Allen’s message to the 2022 Vikings?
"Don’t suck," Allen joked. "Just talking about process and what’s your purpose. Why do you play? What motivates you? That was the base of it, trying to help guys understand how to practice with a process. Guys can understand that and have a healthy competition, guys get better."