Jared Allen's eyes lit up last month upon learning that 20 Hall of Fame players had named him to ESPN.com's Any Era team, comprised of current players whose skills and mentality would have made them a success at any point in football history.
"Wow, that's great," Allen said. "That's why I play, to earn the respect of the guys before me."
Here's a sampling of what some of our panel said about Allen, whose 22 sacks in 2011 fell one shy of setting a league record:
"Jared Allen is going to will himself to get to the quarterback. I don't know how he does it. I can't even really explain it, but he lines up and the next thing you know, he's got the quarterback. The mentality and relentlessness that he approaches the game with is second to none."
"Jared Allen is just a tough, hard-nosed player. He's a defensive end who can get to the quarterback, but if he has to play in the trenches, he can. When he played at Kansas City, he played the run well. And in Minnesota, he is more of a pass-rusher. He is a throwback type of guy if you know him. He's like a big cowboy. He wears cowboy boots and tight jeans and he's a real throwback."
"Jared Allen plays every down, hard and physical. He could've played in the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s. He brings it on every play and gives all he's got."
In the video below, Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton applauds Allen for his performance as an emergency long-snapper during a Week 12 game against the Atlanta Falcons. "And he's covering punts, and he's running 100 miles an hour. That tells me right there: football player."