CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers defensive end Jared Allen announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday in an unconventional but appropriate way.
The NFL's active sacks leader (136) posted a video of himself wearing a black cowboy hat, heavy coat and riding a horse off "into the sunset'' even though there was none.
"I just want to say thank you for an amazing 12-year career,'' Allen said in the video. "This is the part where I was going to ride off into the sunset, but seeing how there is no sunset, I'm just going to ride off.''
Allen, who was raised on a ranch, then waved to the camera, turned his horse and rode off into a snowy field.
Allen released the following statement through his agent, Ken Harris:
"I want to take this time to thank my family, friends, fans and teammates who have given their continued support throughout my 12 year career. It's been a great ride for me, and I couldn't be more grateful for the memories. It is with a great deal of thought and consideration that I have decided that I will not return to football next year.
"I want to thank the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs organizations, who provided me with an opportunity to live out my dream and to be a part of their wonderful communities. Thanks for the life long memories.''
Allen played in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos with a broken right foot suffered in a divisional playoff win against Seattle.
Coach Ron Rivera hinted after the 24-10 loss to the Broncos that Allen might have played his last game.
Allen was scheduled to count $8.5 million against the Carolina salary cap in 2016, but it was unlikely the team would have kept him at that salary.
The Panthers acquired Allen in a trade with Chicago following the third game of the 2015 season after defensive end Charles Johnson suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to go on injured reserve for seven games.
They gave up a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft for the 33-year-old, who has been selected to five Pro Bowls.
Allen had two sacks in 12 games for Carolina during the regular season as the starting right end. He missed the NFC Championship Game against Arizona with the foot injury but returned for the Super Bowl.
Allen was at his best during the 2011 season at Minnesota, with a league-leading 22 sacks. He had 11 sacks or more in eight of his 12 seasons.
Allen was known for being an every-down player throughout his career, saying at one point while with Chicago that he would retire before becoming a "situational player.''
At Carolina, Allen accepted being a part of a four-player rotation. He said in late November that he finally understood the true meaning of team.
"At the end of the day, you play this game to win a Super Bowl, to win championships," said Allen, who hadn't been to a Super Bowl before this season. "It's a team-game sport. Since I've come to this locker room, it's really enhanced what this game is about. You can get in so many [situations] and it's about your individual success."
Allen said late in the season that he would play another season only if it were for the Panthers.
Allen's retirement means Kony Ealy likely will inherit the starting right end position. Ealy had three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble in the Super Bowl.