Holler: Is Allen the new Favre?

Jared Allen is winning over a new fan base for a division rival in Chicago, but, unlike Brett Favre when he left Green Bay, there isn’t the fan animosity towards Allen as he finishes his career away from Minnesota.

The post-Jared Allen era is underway in Mankato.

But with a 40 uncapped and ready to pour, Jared is gone, but not forgotten.

In a Chicago Tribune story Tuesday, Allen said he was willing to ride off into the NFL sunset if he didn’t get an offer from a team with something to offer. He wanted to be an every-down defensive end. He wanted to play for a team that had offensive firepower. He wanted to be in a short-term situation where a ring is possibility.

Allen says the right things. If not for being a genuinely nice guy, he could have been a cult leader. He has a history of providing a refreshing brand of Kool-Aid for the local media to drink. They’ve never sipped. They’ve shot-gunned it.

Allen spent the salad days of his career in Minnesota. He didn’t start here. He won’t end here. Does that sound familiar? Look to the east and you will see a much different scenario of a recurring theme.

Granted, the love that Vikings fans have for Allen isn’t to the same level that hard-core face painters and tattoo enthusiasts have toward Brett Favre. But it’s similar in the hearts of Vikings fans because Allen was one of the three Seal Team 6 members that threw a pillow case over Favre’s head and brought him back to Minnesota against his will (and better judgment) on a private plane without a clear flight manifest. It was covert and CIA approved.

In the deep-fried, cheese-infused Packers Nation, forgiving and forgetting with Favre remains a topic of debate. The bigger question to everyone else should be why? Let the facts speak for themselves.

Favre felt he still had some good football left in him. The Packers didn’t disagree, but they had other ideas. The long-term plan didn’t include Favre. To their credit, the Packers were right. Aaron Rodgers needed to take his lumps (a 6-10 first season) to be the guy for the next decade-plus.

At the time – go back and check the videotape – when Brett and Deanna got off the plane for Packers training camp in 2008, Rodgers fans were in short supply. Ted Thompson may as well have been Osama bin Thompson. Favre wanted to finish his career with the Packers. The only publicly-held NFL franchise said “no” without polling the electorate. In reality, Favre was banished from Green Bay. The Packers traded Favre to the Jets with provisos in the deal that said he couldn’t come back to the NFC North – specifically the Vikings – without an untenable retribution (two first-round draft picks). When the Jets mortgaged the future (now the present/past) on Mark Sanchez, Favre was available on the free agent market.

The hatred shown by quasi-betrayed Packers fans when Favre showed up at Lambeau wearing a Vikings uniform was disgraceful. He was booed throughout his first game back. He didn’t ask to leave. He left.

The Packers have already announced that Favre won’t have his number retired this season out of fears that a portion of the fan base would boo. When the Bears close out Season 1 of 2 at The Bank as the Vikings’ Week 17 opponent, here’s hoping the team works it out to introduce the Bears defense and give the hard-core Vikings fans willing to endure a Dec. 28 game outside a chance to give Allen the ovation he deserves.

Allen and Favre have four things in common. They didn’t get drafted by the teams that made their legacy. They came to their respective teams sporting the “Wild Man-Child” moniker. In the time they spent with their respective franchises, they became husbands and fathers. They both were convinced they had more left in the tank than their career-cementing franchise did.

Allen is a Bear for now. He’s a Viking for life. His speech when he dons a purple blazer upon his induction into the Vikings Ring of Honor at some point in the yet-to-be-corporately-sponsored stadium throws its bird-safe windows open will be epic.

So will Favre’s with the Packers.

When Allen makes his return to Minnesota post-Christmas as a member of the Bears, he will be looking to make those who allowed him to go elsewhere pay dearly for that decision. Favre was no different. He was told by his team that they “wanted to see other people.” The Vikings did the same with Allen.

The difference?

Allen will be cheered. Favre was vilified. Perhaps ‘Sconny wounds take longer to scab over.


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.

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