Allen finds advocate in former greats

It didn't take long for a couple of the best defensive linemen in Vikings history to come to the defense of current Pro Bowler Jared Allen and his style of play. See what John Randle and Jim Marshall had to say about Allen and today's rules protecting the quarterback.

Jim Marshall tries as best he can to hide the effects of playing in 282 consecutive games – 20 straight years – of NFL violence. He prefers not to speak of his ailments, but he is outspoken about the league's current propensity to fine players for hits that he deems to still be within the rules of the game.

"They've found another way to take money out of these guys' pockets. It's ridiculous, man. They're just greedy. The damn owners, I'm so pissed off at them. It's the league. I'm pissed off at them, too," Marshall said after having a face-to-face informal meeting with Jared Allen following practice on Wednesday.

Allen met with the NFL on Tuesday to defend a few of his hits on quarterbacks that had drawn fines from the league, which was reportedly considering suspending him. Allen's talk with league officials helped him avoid a suspension and he said Wednesday that he won't let the scrutiny affect the way he plays.

Former Vikings defensive tackle John Randle, who played for the Vikings 1990 to 2000 and will be inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor at their Nov. 30 game against Chicago, agreed with Marshall's assessment of how the game has changed, even if Randle's time in the NFL was much more recent.

"Most people look at the quarterback and he's one of the highest paid guys on the team, on certain teams. The game is about contact and if you want to protect your quarterback, keep him on the sidelines," Randle said. "It's 11 men; he's part of the game. If you don't believe that's the right way, then maybe hopefully you can find a rule to totally change it. But until then it's a game about contact and the quarterback is live out there. There is not a lot of rules that protect the defensive linemen, the DBs or linebackers. It's a brutal game. It's a game where people are going to get hurt. That's why teams, I guess, have a good starting quarterback and a good backup."

Even with Marshall's ailments, 28 years after he last lined up in the NFL, he still doesn't advocate any less violence in the sport.

"No. They've got too many rules. They should let the guys play. That's what the sport is all about. You can't make this a game like tennis or some of that other stuff where you don't have any contact. This is a sport where you're going to have violent contact every time you touch the ball or every time you go across the line to try to tackle," he said. "Whatever you do, it's all about violence. You can't take violence and then all of the sudden you want to put controls on it. You can't do that. I don't think you should be able to poke somebody in the eye or bust them upside the head, but the parameters, the old rules of football, I think you should be able to do everything you can do. Don't take the quarterback out of the game. My God, he's a prima donna. You can't touch him."

You aren't likely to hear Marshall refer to Allen as a prima donna. His respect for the way that Allen plays the game is obvious, especially after Allen has played in two straight games since suffering what he said was a Grade-3 sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder. Allen took pain-killing injections to help his ability to play through the injury.

"That's what you're supposed to do. He's a player. I love that kid, man. He's great," Marshall said. "He's going to be one of the best defensive ends that they've ever had on this football team. Man, I just admire him so much. He's a go-getter."

Marshall said the league had fines back in his day, but they weren't handed out nearly as often as you see them dispersed these days and he never received one. Allen has already received three fines this season, and other Vikings have been assessed lesser fines for various other penalties.

"I'm just not in favor of all these penalties that the officials have been calling," he said. "You can't touch the quarterback. If he gets the ball out of his hand and you're in the air getting ready to hit him, then some way you'd better stop. You can't do that. Football is a violent game and it's meant to be played violently. When you take that away from guys, it's a catch-22 situation. You've got to go out there and play hard, but you've got to be able to stop it whenever the officials think you should, and I just don't think you can do that."

Randle admitted that he would be fined more often in today's NFL.

"Oh, definitely. When you're out there running around, you're flying around and you're out there full speed, sometimes things are going to happen, especially for the defensive line because a lot of attention is paid to the defensive linemen when they're so aggressive chasing the quarterback," Randle said. "It's a full-contact game. You're taught to go until the whistle blows, and sometimes that whistle may catch you taking that step when you're going at the quarterback."


Thursday's practice was a bit sparse on the defensive line.

Pro Bowl tackles Kevin and Pat Williams were missing to plead their case before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as an appeal to their suspensions for reportedly violating the NFL's policy on steroids and related substances.

The Vikings were also without Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen. Allen said Wednesday that he would probably take it easy in practice this week in an effort to reduce the swelling in his sprained right shoulder.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier attended a meeting in New York to talk with NFL officials about Allen's style of play, and that meeting caused the Vikings to re-arrange how they prepared this week for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Frazier called Tuesday "an extremely important day for game planning," so the team altered and did some game-planning on Monday night. He got back in the office at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

"Tuesday was a long day and a long night. But you do what you've got to do under the circumstances. After going there, it was necessary for me to be there," Frazier said.

Frazier defended Allen's hits on the quarterbacks he has faced recently.

"There is only one way to play. You've got to play hard," he said.

Frazier said he had "no idea" when the league might rule on the Williamses' situation, and he admitted that their missing Thursday's practice wasn't ideal.

"They are the meat and potatoes of what we do inside, and to not have them on a day when we're making adjustments … it makes a big difference. It causes us to almost be a day behind because of that," he said.


  • RB Adrian Peterson did not participate in Thursday's practice. "We had him in the pool running. He was trying to get his body to feel better going into Sunday," said Childress, who felt that Sunday's physical game took a toll on Peterson and decided to rest him Thursday.

  • DE Jared Allen and TE Garrett Mills (ankle) continued to sit out practice as well. Bobby Wade (thigh), who did not practice on Wednesday, was limited on Thursday, as was LB Vinny Ciurciu (hand), CB Benny Sapp (concussion) and S Madieu Williams (shoulder).

  • For the Jaguars, RB Greg Jones (ankle), CBs Rashean Mathis (foot) and Omare Lowe (knee), RB Fred Taylor (neck) and WR Troy Williamson (groin) did not participate on Thursday. DT John Henderson (knee) had full participation after being limited on Wednesday. WR Matt Jones (thigh) was limited Thursday after participating fully on Wednesday.

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