MINNEAPOLIS -- Crediting the team for the fondest memories of his career and reflecting on the life changes that happened in six years with the Minnesota Vikings, Jared Allen signed a one-day contract with the team so he could officially retire as a member of the organization.
Allen, who played in Super Bowl 50 with the Carolina Panthers and announced his retirement two weeks after the Panthers' loss, will finalize his retirement on Friday.
"In my heart, when it was all said and done, I knew I wanted to retire as a Viking," Allen said in a conference call. "I've always kept in contact with [general manager] Rick [Spielman] and [vice president of football operations] Rob [Brzezinski]. It was one of those mutual things."
Allen was named to five Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams in his six seasons with the Vikings, during which he posted 83.5 sacks with the team. He ranks third in team history in sacks, and he came within a half-sack of Michael Strahan's single-season record in 2011.
The defensive end, who was arrested for DUI twice during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs and was suspended for four games the year before the Vikings traded a first-round pick for him, also underwent a period of personal growth in Minnesota. He has credited former coach Leslie Frazier and team chaplain Tom Lamphere with helping him turn his life around; Allen met his wife and became a father in Minnesota, and he founded a charity in 2009 that has helped build seven homes for wounded military veterans.
"You go through life, and there's a maturation process," Allen said. "I made some mistakes early in my career, and you learn from those and you grow from them. Minnesota was a place that helped me grow as a man. ... When I got there, I was in the process of changing some habits and growing up. To have guys that are doing it right around you is phenomenal."
Allen left the Vikings following the 2013 season, when the team shifted its defensive scheme and began the search for a new quarterback under coach Mike Zimmer. After a difficult 2014 season with the Bears, Allen was traded to the Panthers last fall, and became a regular contributor to the league's sixth-ranked defense. Allen has praised the atmosphere created by Panthers coach Ron Rivera -- a former teammate of Frazier's in Chicago -- but said it would have been sweeter had he made a Super Bowl appearance with the Vikings, who lost the 2010 NFC Championship Game to the New Orleans Saints in overtime.
"I rooted in Minnesota, not just on the field but off the field. So that's why it was really important for me to go back and officially retire as a Viking. I can say now that I'm a Viking for the remainder of my time on earth."Jared Allen
"It's truly like a football cliché -- everybody is sold out for everybody, everybody works," Allen said of the Panthers' culture. "But in Minnesota, I was a part of that building process. I got there in '08; we put in a lot of hard work in, to grind through that season in '09. The blood, sweat and tears were there from years of putting in that hard work to try and get to that spot. You feel like you're a bigger part of the entire process from previous years."
The immediate time following Allen's retirement has been devoted to his charity. He said the organization is working on houses for veterans in Oregon, Texas, North Carolina and the Chicago area.
He said he will remain a fan of the Vikings and plans to travel to the Twin Cities to see the team's new stadium after it opens this summer.
"Minnesota was my heart," Allen said. "Six great years, not only with football, but I met my wife when I was there. I got married when I was there. I had my first child there. There are just so many life memories there that, from top to bottom in that organization, I feel a part of it.
"Obviously when I went to Chicago, I met some great people there and developed friendships. And Carolina was phenomenal. But I'm not rooted in those places. I rooted in Minnesota, not just on the field but off the field. So that's why it was really important for me to go back and officially retire as a Viking. I can say now that I'm a Viking for the remainder of my time on earth."