Jared Allen would have fit in just fine with the famous Purple People Eaters of the '70s—Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, and Greg Larsen.
After all, he's nothing if not a throwback to the era when Page, Marshall, Eller, and Larsen roamed the frozen tundra of old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, terrorizing opposing quarterbacks.
Like Eller, he throws people aside like tackling dummies.
"What I like about Jared," Eller recently told Sports Illustrated, "is he doen't have all those twirly moves you see from other defensive ends. That might help you get to the quarterback, but it doesn't make you an every-down player. Jared doesn't do that. He is old school. He takes on the blockers head-on. He works leverage. He tries to push the blocker back. He's an every-down player, and I love seeing that. You don't see that much anymore."
Like Marshall, he plays the game with reckless abandon until the final whistle.
On and on, reckless abandon
Something's wrong, this is gonna shock them
Nothing to hold on to
We'll use this song to lead you on
"Jared really understands," said Marshall to SI's Joe Posnanski. "You can play football for money, and you can play football for glory—you can play football for a lot of reasons. But there's only one reason that will keep you going when you're exhausted and you're beat up and nothing is going right. And that is the guys playing next to you and the guys playing behind you."
Allen, and the guys playing next to him and behind him, played like those old Viking Purple People Eaters in dismantling the Cowboys, 34-3, this weekend to advance to Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Saints in New Orleans.
“It took a while to get one,” Allen told the Kansas City Star. “But we finally did and got it in a big way...it’s all perspective. This is just one. The only way to go out on a winning streak is to win the Super Bowl. So if you lose the next one, it doesn’t really matter, does it?”
Allen finished the regular season with 14.5 sacks for the second consecutive year, second in the NFL. However, numbers can be deceiving: 7.5 of those sacks came in two games against Green Bay, and he had just two sacks in the final five games.
So can he be stopped by young Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod? Some analysts, like former Viking Cris Carter and ESPN's Mike Golic, think it's doubtful, but stopping Allen is not without precedent this year.
The Arizona Cardinals did it with double teams on every play, holding Allen sackless on Dec. 6, and the Cincinnati Bengals employed the same strategy to great effect the following week, holding Allen without a sack for the second consecutive game. Then, Carolina negated Allen with double teams and QB rollouts, limiting him to one sack.
“Everyone was talking about how our sack numbers were down the past four weeks,” Allen said. “Well, offenses are going to do things to nullify you when you’re hitting the quarterback. They’re just not going to let you get three or four sacks a game.”
Publicly, Allen says there really is no way to stop Brees. However, reading between the lines, it seems Allen thinks because of Brees' short stature, there may be an opportunity to bat down some balls.
"He [Brees] gets rid of the ball so fast, you've got to get there as fast as you can," Allen told ESPN Radio on Monday night. "You can't really change anything. You just can't get frustrated. Mentally, you have to know the ball is coming out and sometimes a batted ball is as good as a sack. And, a pressure—just getting him to move his feet, not letting him plant his feet and throw down the field.
"He has every throw in the bag," said Allen of Brees. "It's not like you can go into the game saying if only we can get him to throw down the field. I don't think I've seen a throw that guy can't make. So, he's going to be tough but we've played them before and we were successful. So, we'll go back and watch a little film and see what the coaches dial up this week."
Chances are they will dial up No. 69 on every possible occasion.
After all, he's a modern day Purple People Eater, no less.
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