Three and a half years ago, the Jared Allen trade was easy to hate.
The Chiefs were trading something proven; a fan-favorite with a remarkable personality perfect for hard working, blue collar football fans of the Midwest.
Allen made Kansas City his home and he still owns property in the area. He opened a business in Kansas City, which is now defunct, and dominated opposing quarterbacks at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Kansas City is a phenomenal place and I have nothing but great memories from my years there,” Allen said. “The fans were great to me and the city was great to me.”
The majority of fans gave Allen a longer leash when it came to off-field trouble, namely the two DUIs he received within a five month period, because they felt a personal connection with the sack artist. He was more than an athlete in this city. He was a fun-loving personality.
Plus, Allen had a mullet. How can you not like an All-Pro athlete that sports a mullet?
“I always root for (the Chiefs) just because I think that city is so deserving of a good football team because they’re such good fans,” Allen said. “It was a great place to play football.
“Hopefully I’ll get a warm (reception). I feel like I put in a good body of work while I was there, but Chiefs fans are good true fans so I do expect some boos.”
The organization heard plenty of boos after a public spat over contract negotiations ended with Allen being dealt to Minnesota in a 2008 blockbuster trade netting the Chiefs three draft picks in return – a first and two third-round picks.
At the time, many football analysts praised the amount of compensation Kansas City had received for the 2007 NFL sack champion. Chiefs fans were less convinced.
Kansas City had dealt a proven commodity for what would result in a group of unproven prospects. Fair or not, the Chiefs recent string of draft picks hadn’t exactly inspired confidence in the team’s ability to find another All-Pro in return.
As it turns out, the Jared Allen trade represents one of the few instances where both trade partners walked away as winners following a blockbuster deal.
The Chiefs netted future All-Pro RB
But it was time to deal Allen. The Chiefs committed to go young and blew up an ancient roster. Even if Allen had received a contract extension, he’d still have been a good player for a franchise under complete remodeling. He likely wouldn’t have found that situation to be ideal either.
“Truth of the matter is that when we were there we were an aging team,” Allen remembered of the 2007 Chiefs.
Plus, nearly four years later, it’s hard to see how Allen would fit into the Chiefs current 3-4 defensive system.
“I might be pulling for a 4-3 defense,” he said while laughing.
Allen’s skills don’t align with playing defensive end in a 3-4 defense and moving to a stand-up outside linebacker doesn’t translate into success for every 4-3 end.
Just because the switch worked for Hali doesn’t mean it would have worked for Allen.
“I honestly think that 3-4 outside linebacker position fits him better,” Allen said of his former teammate. “I think it allows (Tamba) to have a little more vision for what he wants to do. He was a good player while I was there. The guy works his butt off and good things are going to happen to someone who works hard and is dedicated to his craft.”
Most forget that Hali out-sacked Allen as a rookie in 2006.
Since struggling the first season following Allen’s departure (2008), Hali and Allen are within 5.0 quarterback takedowns of one another. Hali is part of Kansas City’s long-term future as well, signing a long-term contract extension this summer.
Nearly four years after Allen was dealt to the Vikings, all parties seem content.
Allen is more than happy playing for the Vikings and the Chiefs netted a 24-year old Pro Bowl running back who recently signed a contract extension through 2015. Charles is a new fan-favorite in Kansas City. Allen’s production and charm have resonated with the Minnesota fan base.
Still, from time to time, minds wonder. Sunday will be one of those moments.
When No. 69 heads returns to Arrowhead for the first time, and trots over to the opposing sideline, it’ll be hard not to imagine what Allen’s career would be like if he were still in Kansas City.
“That crosses my mind sometimes,” Allen admitted.