Jared Allen may have retired from the NFL, but he hasn't retired from the professional sports arena.
In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Alicia Jessop zeroed in on Allen's transition from the field to the arena.
Jessop wrote that Allen's former Panthers teammates gathered together in October 2015 to watch Allen's bull compete for the Pro Bull Riding World Championship, months before they would compete in a championship game of their own.
Since 2012, Allen had carved out a sizable name for himself in the sport of bull riding after partnering with the Professional Bull Riders series, in large part because Jared Allen's Pro Bull Team was the owner of the circuit's most feared bucking bull, Air Time.
During his time in Minnesota (2008-2013), Allen racked up 328 tackles (245 solo) and 85.5 sacks. Now that he's moved on to rodeo, he's proving to be equally successful.
Jessop said that breeding bucking bulls is an intense – and expensive – business that's more than just a casual hobby.
Professionals devote their time researching how to perfectly cross traits, while investors line up with money to pay for the most heated, athletic and strong bulls. The story of how Allen became the owner of Air Time — a bull weighing in at a lofty 1,500 pounds and boasting an impeccable 100-percent buckoff percentage this PBR season — is one of unexpected success.
"When we got into it, we wanted to make sure that people didn't think we were just coming in and throwing our money around," Allen told Jessop. "We probably overpaid for some bulls right away to make our mark."
Presented with an opportunity to buy Air Time, Allen and [stock contractor Matt Scharping] paid $150,000 for the bull. As the spotted calf eventually turned into one of the greatest bucking bulls the world has seen, Allen returned to the mindset he had in the early days of his career.
"Air Time is a freak," Allen told Jessop. "Every time he bucks, he is so aggressive and violent in his movements. He is explosive. You think he is going to hurt himself every time he bucks. When I first started playing, I was a little off of my rocker, too. You have to have a little edge. If you're going to be a great athlete, you have to have an edge and chip on your shoulder."
According to Jessop, in Air Time's four years in the PBR, he has only been successfully ridden once. In 28 total outs (as of Oct. 21), Air Time's average buckoff rate is 2.96 seconds and his average bull score is 45.19.
This season, Air Time boasts a 100-percent buckoff rate in seven outs. Allen hopes to utilize Air Time's success, along with that of his team, to grow the popularity and visibility of PBR. Allen has pushed PBR to adopt new tech-based strategies, including the development of its first mobile app game, *8 To Glory. *
Needs in the NFC North
Nov. 1 marks the NFL trade deadline, and it will be interesting to see if teams around the league make any last-minute moves prior to the cutoff.
For USA Today, a panel of Associated Press writers assembled a look at all 32 teams and what their biggest needs are currently. They pointed to the Vikings offensive line as the unit most hampered by injuries.
In looking at Minnesota's NFC North neighbors, it was opined that running back is the position most needed by both the Packers and the Lions at this point, even though Packers General Manager Ted Thompson recently traded with Kansas City to bring Knile Davis to Green Bay.
[With] Eddie Lacy out at least another seven weeks with an ankle injury, and backup James Starks nursing a knee injury, it might be nice for the [Packers] offense to have another experienced RB.
The Lions have had their backfield depleted by injuries, losing Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington for extended stretches. Matthew Stafford's chances of consistently moving the ball through the air will get a boost if defenses need to worry about a solid running game.
And as for the Bears, whom the Vikings will face tonight on Monday Night Football? The panel wrote that Chicago needs "a little bit of everything."
As their 1-6 record makes clear, the Bears could use a lot of help in a lot of areas with an eye to next season, from either a backup quarterback or a young quarterback, to a topflight receiver, to a proven running back, to help in the secondary.
What makes Minnesota's defense tick?
As the Vikings prepare to face the division-rival Bears tonight, Chicago Tribune reporter Dan Wiederer wrote about Minnesota's dynamic defense and what makes it tick.
What the Vikings have right now is what the Bears ultimately want — a loose swagger and a belief they can conquer all challengers. Three years ago they were a 1-7 team searching for stability and floundering to remain competitive. Now they're coming Monday night to Soldier Field with a firm grip of the NFC North lead and with the league's most ferocious defense ready to turn loose.
Wiederer said a key to the Vikings defensive success is that the unit is so deep; it's not driven by a single player. He said it's impossible to "identify the Vikings defensive linchpin."
It might be [Harrison] Smith, the do-it-all safety who sets the tone on the back end. Unless it's [Everson] Griffen, who can be a terror off the edge. Unless it's Linval Joseph, the powerful nose tackle who basically has become a Bermuda triangle for opponents' running games.
But definitive votes for any of those players also would unfairly overlook [Anthony] Barr and defensive end Brian Robison and cornerback Xavier Rhodes and …
You get the point.
According to Wiederer, it's equally difficult to select the unit's signature performance. He pointed out specific successes against the Giants, Packers and Panthers.
Zimmer can't quite explain it, the united focus his team has. He sees it in the way his players practice and study, in how invested they are in self-improvement. But most of all, the 60-year-old coach says, he's taken aback by the energy surge on game days when his own personal anxiety never is mirrored.