Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was a guest on the PFT Live webcast to promote his charity golf tournament, Night Ops II on June 18 in Arizona to benefit Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors – a non-profit organization that raises money to build or modify homes for America's injured military veterans and make the houses handicap accessible.
Allen told host Mike Florio that he came up with the idea for the charity because, while the focus is often on the soldiers that have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are many more who came back and were tragically changed by injuries that have resulted in lost limbs or loss of the functional use of them. Allen said he got involved as a way of showing his gratitude for those who have put themselves in harm's way to defend the American way of life.
"Literally day in, day out, there is somebody trying to kill them," Allen said. "They're working 12 hour days in the hot desert sand. I was thinking, ‘I'm not over there fighting, but what can I do to say thank you?' Whether you agree with the war or whether you don't, there's no (arguing) that there are human beings over there risking their lives for our freedoms. Sometimes these guys and these ladies come back with life-altering injuries. I figured what could I do to make their lives a little more comfortable when they come home and do my part to say ‘Thank you.'"
As expected, Florio, a closet Vikings fans, turned the line of questioning back to the Vikings. Specifically, he asked what went so wrong for the Vikings in 2010, a season in which they entered as the favorite to three-peat as NFC North champions and finished the year as the division doormat at 6-10.
Allen's answer was something that Vikings fans became all too familiar with last year.
"I think we were riding such a high from the previous year, I think people kind of thought things were going to fall into place like they did the year before," Allen said. "Outside distractions really took the best of that team. It sounds like an excuse, but it's not … I guess it kind of is. We have to go back and look and say, ‘We're professional athletes. We can't let outside issues distract from what your goal is. You get paid to go on the field and win games.' I think that's what we have to get back to. Obviously, a lot of those distractions have left – Brett's retired and coach (Brad) Childress was fired – we don't have the changing of the guard right in the middle of the season and all that stuff to answer questions about. We can finally get back to answering questions about football."
Allen, who was one of the three players who went on the mission to go to Mississippi to bring back Favre in August, was asked his feeling on the Vikings turning over the offense to rookie Christian Ponder. He said it isn't his decision to make, but, given the status of the quarterbacks already in the division, Ponder will have to perform at a high level immediately if the Vikings are to compete for a division title.
"I'm not going to pass any judgment," Allen said. "Obviously, in our division we have a division of established quarterbacks with Jay (Cutler) and Aaron (Rodgers) – the NFC team (with the best regular-season record) and the Super Bowl team. And the Lions are looking good this year. It's always nice to have an established veteran quarterback, but at some point you have to trust management to put people in the right positions to do what's best for the organization."
When that will happen remains very much up in the air. On the same broadcast, a guest brought up a scenario in which the lockout could remain into late October with the league salvaging an eight-game regular season. Allen said he has heard many of the scenarios, but continues to work out in Arizona as he always does in hopes that there will be a resolution to the labor stoppage, leading to a typical preseason and regular season.
Like their millions of fans, the players find themselves waiting, but Allen framed the issue by pointing out that the current court arguments being made by the two sides come from very different points of view.
"As players, we're fighting to get back on the field," Allen said. "The owners are fighting to keep us off the field. My job is to make sure I'm ready when I get called."
For those looking to contribute to Jared Allen's Home for Wounded Warriors, they can learn who to contribute or buy Allen-related merchandise by going to his website.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Jared Allen: ‘Distractions have left'
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