Even at a time when the Vikings are struggling, it's difficult to contain Jared Allen's enthusiasm for the game of football. Some players might not be looking forward to a blustery visit to Lambeau Field in late November.
For Allen, freezing weather is part of playing football late in the season and it tests the mettle of the athlete. Allen will be in his element in Green Bay, where he enjoys the college atmosphere of Lambeau Field and the small-town neighborhood in which the Packers play their games.
When it comes to not having to face Aaron Rodgers, however, Allen had mixed feelings. Asked if he was happy to be playing against Scott Tolzien instead of Rodgers, Allen explained both sides of the coin from his perspective.
"Yeah, I guess," Allen said, "after what (Rodgers) did to us last time (Oct. 27 at the Metrodome). I like playing against Aaron though. It's fun to play against top-quality guys. People always say they want to play people at their best. I'm going, ‘Fine, I'll take them at their weakest.'"
Perhaps part of Allen's tongue-in-cheek joy for not having to face Rodgers is that Green Bay has lost all three of its games since Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone against Detroit on the opening series of the game. Since then, it's been all downhill for the Pack.
Allen sees this as an opportunity for the Vikings to get a much-needed road win, which they haven't done all season. With the Vikings out of the playoff chase, just about every win they get from here on could have a playoff impact, since their final six games are against the three division rivals – Philadelphia, the leader in the NFC East, and the Ravens and Bengals, the defending Super Bowl champ and the current leader in the AFC North.
"We got to try and get some wins," Allen said. "Obviously at 2-8, you're just trying to build up, you're trying to ruin everybody else's season as well as yours, right? So, they say, misery loves company. I hope this year no one makes the playoffs."
Allen said that the Vikings need to find their own motivation to prepare themselves for the games remaining on their 2013 schedule. Part of that is to remind his teammates that they can play the role of spoiler and take out their aggression on teams that are looking to make the playoffs – a loss to the Vikings would do a lot of damage to that potential. When the Vikings meet the Packers, historically records have meant nothing. When the Vikings were riding high, the Packers always seemed to pull off upsets. When Brett Favre was lighting up the NFL, you could bet the Packers would get tripped up by the Vikings.
It may be a little cliché, but Allen believes you can legitimately throw out the records when the Vikings and Packers meet, and Lambeau Field is a place he wants to go play in and come home with a victory.
"I think we're in one of those places where it doesn't matter what our record tends to be, but if we went up there and beat them in Green Bay, we get a little bit of bragging rights, especially after the whooping they gave us here," Allen said. "I try to tell our guys, ‘Heck, every week is like our Super Bowl.' You go up to Green Bay, you might as well treat it as such, as a playoff game, and spoil their dreams along with whatever they're trying to get accomplished."
Whether it's Allen's last trip to Lambeau as a member of the Vikings or not, he's going to enjoy the experience because, as a throwback player who at times seems a little displaced in the modern NFL, he lives like the old-time NFL players with his enthusiasm and willingness to play hurt. For many, a trip to Lambeau will mean bundling up and looking forward to getting back to the sideline heaters. For Allen, it will be pure fun.
"I like playing there," Allen said. "There's a lot of history there. I'm just a fan of the game, a fan of playing on the same field in the same stadium a lot of those greats played. Their crowd is cool. It's just a fun atmosphere to play in. I've never played there as the home team, obviously. But playing there over the years, it's great. It's always fun and competitive games, the weather, outdoor football, it's kind of throwback football in this age of – even though they're an up-tempo, throw-it-first – but that atmosphere of Lambeau just kind of reminds you this is some old-school football. If it snows, we're still going to play."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Allen a fan of ‘old-school' Lambeau
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