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Jared Allen: 'My Life Really Blossomed' in Minnesota

Flanked by a purple Vikings baseball cap and his horned helmet, Jared Allen swiped his pen Thursday at his home in Arizona.

He picked up the ball cap and donned it in celebration of countless memories made in six decorated seasons of wearing the helmet.

Named as one of the "50 Greatest Vikings" in December 2010, Allen rejoined the team Thursday via a one-day contract to retire Friday from his 12-season NFL career. He will be a Vikings family member for life.

"My life really blossomed in Minnesota. That's why I think it was so important for me to retire there," Allen said during an*interview* with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen and Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall on KFAN. "That community has been nothing but great to me. My wife and I absolutely loved it there. It was six years of my life — it feels like I spent my whole career there, but it's six years I'll never forget because so many phenomenal things happened not just on the field, but off the field as well.

"The support that they've showed my foundation, as far as the money raised to build homes, that's continued," the colorful and community-minded defensive end said. "I think I'll have a connection to that community for the rest of my life. That's why this was important to me. My heart never left."

Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf said, "We are incredibly proud to have Jared retire as a member of the Vikings franchise."

"Jared was not only a phenomenal player on the field, but he was also a favorite among the fans and within the organization," Wilf added. "He will always be a member of the Minnesota Vikings family."

It was fitting that Allen, who came to the Vikings in a blockbuster trade with the Chiefs in 2008, did so on a day when a substantial swap of picks between Tennessee and Los Angeles, including the No. 1 overall selection of this year's draft, was announced two weeks prior to the 2016 NFL Draft's opening night.

Minnesota sent its 17th overall selection, two third rounders and a sixth-round selection to Kansas City in exchange for Allen and a sixth-round selection that was used to pick John Sullivan before the 2008 NFL Draft. Allen greeted fans at the Vikings draft party within the week.

"Jared's impact was evident throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul community from the moment he came to Minnesota," said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. "While I am very proud of his accomplishments as a football player, I am just as impressed with Jared's leadership and personal growth during his six seasons here. I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes now that he is retired from football."

Allen recalled on the radio and in a conference call the welcome he received from fans, teammates and others in the Vikings organization.

"It just instantly clicked for me," Allen said. "Everybody there, from top to bottom, from the Wilfs to the 53rd dude on the roster, everything clicked for me and I was accepted. We had so much fun. Everyone had the goal of working hard and winning games."

Allen didn't miss a game with the Vikings, starting all 96 regular season contests and helping the Vikings claim back-to-back NFC North titles in his first two seasons with the club. He recorded 85.5 of his 136 career sacks with Minnesota and tallied 327 tackles, 16 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and four interceptions. He broke Minnesota's single-season sacks record set by Hall of Famer Chris Doleman (21 in 1989) with 22 in the 2011 season. The 136 sacks has Allen in a tie with Julius Peppers for ninth all-time in NFL history, 1.5 ahead of DeMarcus Ware.

Asked about his "greatest Vikings memory" by reporters, Allen said:

"Holy Toledo. Obviously, my 22nd sack was phenomenal. That was unfortunate it was in a very down year for the team," Allen said. "I think my greatest memory would be the entire 2009 season. I've got individual memories with each guy along the way, but that 2009 season was something special. That was just fun.

"We won a couple of games we had no business winning," he continued. "That catch that Greg Lewis made in the back of the end zone against the Niners (with two seconds left for a 27-24 win in Week 3), that's when I realized how magical Brett [Favre] could be. It was a pretty cool moment."

Look back on some of Jared Allen's best moments from his six years as a Viking.

After open discussions with the Vikings, Allen opted to sign with Chicago in 2014. He was traded to Carolina early in 2015 and helped the Panthers win the NFC Championship and appear in Super Bowl 50 the final time he took the field.

In the following days, Allen posted a timeless video with him on horseback, announcing he intended to retire before riding off into the "sunset," although the sun was obscured by a cloud-blanketed sky hovering above a snowy field.

Asked what retirement has in store, Allen vowed to continue his charity work through his "Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors" Foundation.

The organization renovates or builds new homes for brave members of the military and has projects in various stages in Oregon, Texas, Chicago and North Carolina.

It also was clear that Allen's non-football family will garner a significant amount of his time and attention. His youngest daughter's boisterous voice could be heard in the background during the conference call.

Allen has great sights and sounds ahead and plenty of fond memories in his rearview mirror.

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