Jared Allen was met with a surprise at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis last Friday.
The fan favorite Minnesota Vikings defensive end visited the stadium to speak with the team after a training camp practice. He was surprised by a video on the scoreboard announcing he would be the 27th inductee into the Vikings Ring of Honor this year.
“No idea at all. Very humbling. Probably the only way they could get me to go back to training camp again,” Allen joked during a July 30 press conference. “I was completely shocked. It was already a great honor to come and speak to the team… Wish my wife and kids could have been here for the original surprise, but of course they’ll be here for the big celebration in October.”
But after the fanfare was over, Allen, the franchise’s single-season sack leader, was met with a challenge from edge rusher Danielle Hunter.
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‘He Told Me He Was Coming for the Record’
Speaking the day after Allen’s surprise at U.S. Bank Stadium, the future Vikings legend shared a conversation he had with Hunter that day.
“He told me he was coming for the record,” Allen said of his single-season, 22-sack record from 2011. “I said, ‘Hey, come get it. I’ll be on the sideline cheering you on.’ ”
A third-round pick in 2015, Hunter elevated his reputation in the league as an elite edge rusher after tallying back-to-back 14.5 sack seasons in 2018 and 2019. The two-time Pro Bowler was the youngest player to reach 50 career sacks but has since struggled with injury, playing just seven games over the past two seasons.
Due to his absence from the field, Hunter has fallen from the elite-tier of edge rushers in most consensus rankings just as quickly as he rose.
But when word spread of his challenge to Allen, Hunter, often a stoic presence at the podium, opted to let his action speak for him.
“I’m a man of action,” Hunter said, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I’m not man of words. I’m a man of action. That’s all I have to say about that.”
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‘That Dude Could Be Insanely Special’
Speaking on Hunter, Allen compared the franchise’s latest sack artist to Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears legend Julius Peppers.
“If he stays healthy, I think he could be one of the all times,” Allen said. “His body his size, he reminds me a lot of Julius Peppers. He moves with power and he knows how to use his body. He has a rare ability to power somebody (and) finesse come around the edge… That dude could be insanely special, just got to stay healthy that’s the truth to this game.”
Coming off surgery for a herniated disc in his neck, Hunter proved to be every bit his normal self, tallying six sacks in seven games last season before he suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle injury.
He’s fully recovered and has been a full participant at training camp this offseason and, if he can put together a full season, should enter talks for a contract extension with his deal expiring in 2023.
“Danielle was one of the first people I spoke with,” general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said at the draft on March 1, per Vikings.com. “Really good player. Really good person. He’s a really good football player and to build a championship team you need a lot of really good football players. He’s someone we want to work with going forward.”