Jared Allen has 136 career sacks. That may seem like a lot to remember, but the one he had against Peyton Manning stands out.
“In 2008, I got him in Minnesota,” the former Viking told reporters without hesitation of taking down the then-Colts quarterback.
Now he’d like to add another — in the Super Bowl.
The Panthers defensive end practiced without limitations last week after missing the NFC title game with a broken bone in his foot. “It’s great,” he said of the injury. “I’m just preparing as usual.”
There is, however, nothing usual about the Super Bowl. Allen, in his 12th NFL season, is getting ready for his first experience with that.
“I took Monday and [Tuesday] to let it all sink in, let all the emotional stuff go, and taking care of all the business,” he said of the preparations that go into the trip, from tickets to family travel.
Making the game more intense for him is its site. Allen was born in Los Gatos, California, and grew up in Morgan Hill, a small town about 25 miles southeast of San Jose and Santa Clara.
“It’s surreal,” he said. “I get to go back and play in my home city, not just my home state. It’s right in my backyard. [I’m] reflecting back on the whole 12-year journey it took to get here. For me, [I] try to get all that stuff out of the way and in perspective so you can focus on football and not let the moment create something bigger than it actually is.”
Allen, 33, had come close to a Super Bowl. He was on the Vikings team that lost to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game after the 2009 season. He compared the sensations of that game and this year’s NFC title game.
“One devastation, one elation,” he said. “This is phenomenal, it’s great. I know that feeling to be one game away from the Super Bowl and lose and have to start back from scratch. And then it took me another six or seven years to get there. It’s surreal. It’s something that I don’t know if it will really truly sink in until later down the road. You just try to get in your routine and go about your business.”
And unlike the period of time when he was in the training room and on the sideline, Allen’s business this week seems to be on the field. He said he understood Ron Rivera’s decision to rule him out of the game against the Cardinals — Rivera said he did not want younger players looking over their shoulder for Allen to come into the game — but he would have liked to be out there.
“Did you see how much fun those guys were having on the field?” he said. “As a competitor, I want to be on the field all the time. I want to be a part of this with these guys. This is a special group, and that’s what makes this so great. Everyone wants to contribute.”