Allen certainly has the pedigree and stats to back up his case for a spot in Canton, Ohio. He ranks 12th all-time with 136.0 career sacks, and every player ahead of him who has been eligible is in the Hall of Fame. For comparison’s sake, John Randle – who was inducted in 2010 – finished his own illustrious career with 137.5 career sacks.
Allen played 12 seasons in the NFL and recorded eight seasons of double-digit sacks.
He began his career with Kansas City with 43.0 sacks in four seasons, but he flourished even more after being traded to Minnesota in 2008.
Allen racked up 85.5 sacks in 96 career games in Purple over six seasons. That stretch was highlighted by a 22.0-sack season in 2011 that set a Vikings single-season record but just missed out on the all-time NFL record of 22.5.
Allen said he quickly learned about the Vikings long history of pass rushers upon arriving in Minnesota, and the standard that had been set by the Purple People Eaters, Chris Doleman, Randle and others.
“Certain teams have storied [histories], and Minnesota is known for its D-line. Anybody that tells you differently is full of it,” Allen said. “To come to Minnesota and have that pressure … but it was [also] a sense of pride with that lineage. You have to uphold it.
“So to chase those guys down and have conversations with Alan Page, to be able to talk with Jim Marshall and understand the history of the Vikings … I think it pushed us to be great,” Allen added. “I ended up leaving in free agency to try and go win a Super Bowl, but my goal was to never leave Minnesota. But if you can be one of the best D-linemen in that franchise, you’ve had yourself a pretty good doggone career.”
The 38-year-old doesn’t have many regrets from his stellar career, except that he fell short of 150 career sacks.
He had compiled seven straight seasons of 10-plus sacks from 2007 to 2013 when he joined the Bears, but back injuries limited him to just 7.5 total sacks in 2014 and 2015.
Even still, Allen looks back on the entirety of his career with fondness.
“I’m one of the rare people that got to play the game my way,” Allen said. “I was never cut, every [move] was because I asked to be traded … or somewhere I wanted to go in free agency. So, I got to play my career my way.
“I played this game for the respect of my peers and the respect of those who played before,” Allen continued. “One of the best moments of my career was when I got an email from [Hall of Fame defensive end] Jack Youngblood telling me I played the game the right way. That means the world to me.
“I’m able to walk into a room and talk to peers I played against … at no point is anyone going to say, ‘This dude was a bum … or I never had a hard time with him,’ ‘Allen added. “I think people respect I put the work in. And from a fan’s perspective, I think they all know I gave everything I had when I was on that field. And I did it because I understood that if someone is going to spend their hard-earned dollars to watch me play, then I’m going to go give that to them.”
Allen is one of four first-ballot players among the 15 finalists, joining the likes of Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson and Calvin Johnson.
Other notable names include Ronde Barber, John Lynch, Torry Holt, Zach Thomas and Reggie Wayne.
We’ll find out soon if Allen will be slipping into a gold jacket to celebrate his memorable career.
“I hold no expectations, therefore I hold no disappointment if it doesn’t happen this year,” Allen said. “But the process has been cool, everyone at the Hall of Fame has been cool.
“They’ve treated me as if I’m already in the Hall of Fame with the respect and dignity and the praise they’ve heaped upon me,” Allen added. “However it plays out, I’ll be super excited. It will be one of the greatest moments of my life if and when I get in. But if it’s not this year, if it’s next year, I’ll take that, too. If it’s this year, I’ll take that.”