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What a rush: Ex-Vikings Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen named finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Jared Allen, Ray Edward
FILE – In this Sept. 14, 2008, file photo, Minnesota Vikings defensive ends Jared Allen (69) and Ray Edward, right, celebrate Allen’s sack of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Payton Manning during an NFL football game in Minneapolis. Celebrations that used to be part of the game are under increased scrutiny and, though the league rulebook has some very specific examples of what constitutes a penalty, the gray area is as wide as ever. (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid, File)

The Vikings had been searching for a dominant pass-rushing defensive end for several seasons when the opportunity to acquire Jared Allen arrived in April 2008. The Minnesota front office, led by coach Brad Childress and then-vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman, had two decisions to make.

The first was whether they wanted to pay the Kansas City Chiefs’ asking price of a first-round pick, two third-round selections and a swap of sixth-round picks. The second was whether they wanted to take a gamble on Allen, who had twice been charged with drunken driving and been suspended by the NFL for the first four games (it was reduced two on appeal) of the 2007 season for repeat violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.

What might have impacted the decision was the fact that Allen had returned from his suspension in a game against the Vikings and recorded two sacks in a Chiefs victory. He finished the season with an NFL-leading 15.5 sacks. Allen was exactly the type of player the Vikings felt they needed to improve their defense and so they put their concerns aside and made the trade. The deal also included giving Allen a six-year contract that included $31 million in guarantees and made him the highest-paid defensive player in the league.

It was no small investment, but the Vikings ended up having no regrets.

Allen, who had been unhappy in Kansas City, spent his next six seasons with the Vikings, recording 85.5 sacks, and making four Pro Bowl appearances, while being selected first-team All-Pro three times. The Vikings made three playoff appearances with Allen on their roster, including a run to the 2009 NFC title game. Allen had 14.5 sacks during that regular season and another in the postseason.

On Tuesday, largely because of his success in purple, Allen was named as one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021. Allen, quarterback Peyton Manning, defensive back Charles Woodson and wide receiver Calvin Johnson are all in their first year of eligibility.

The other finalists are cornerback Ronde Barber, tackle Tony Boselli, safety LeRoy Butler, guard Alan Faneca, wide receiver Torry Holt, safety John Lynch, linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., linebacker Sam Mills, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebacker Zach Thomas and wide receiver Reggie Wayne.

As many as five modern-era players will be chosen from the above list when the 48-member Hall of Fame selection committee meets virtually on Jan. 19.

A fourth-round pick by the Chiefs in 2004 out of Idaho State, Allen spent four seasons in Kansas City before the trade. He joined the Bears in 2014 after leaving Minnesota and completed his 12-year career with Carolina in 2015. The Panthers lost to the Broncos in the Super Bowl that season.

Allen is 12th on the NFL’s all-time sacks list with 136 and had a career-high and NFL-leading 22 with the Vikings in 2011. Allen did not miss a regular-season or playoff start during his time with the Vikings.