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NFL AM: Jared Allen Literally Rides Off To End NFL Career

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Jared Allen has always been one of the NFL’s true characters, and he remained that to the very end of his career.

On Thursday morning, the 12-year veteran posted a video to his Twitter account announcing his retirement in one of the most unique fashions you’ll see. The video shows Allen on horseback thanking everyone for an amazing 12 years. He then notes he was set to ride off into the sunset, but in the absence of sunset, he simply rides off to end his career. As far as retirement announcements go, it was top notch.

So ends an illustrious career for the four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection. Allen spent time with four different teams over the course of his career, including the last 12 games of the 2015 regular season, and the 2016 postseason, with the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers, after an early-season trade from the Chicago Bears. The trade to Carolina afforded Allen an opportunity to play in his first Super Bowl, and he had to work even harder to get there after suffering a broken bone in his foot during a divisional round game against Seattle.

But he managed to suit up for the game and although the injury helped limit his impact, and the Panthers ultimately lost to Denver, it was still a strong way to go out for a man who has had a highly successful career individually but didn’t have much team success to show for it.

What’s most respectable about Allen is that he went out on his terms. At just 33, could’ve hung around for a few more years, trying to ride Carolina’s success to a ring or latching on with another team with the same goal in mind. But after seeing his production dip precipitously over the last several years, Allen knew his time was up and this cowboy earned the right to ride off into the sunset with his head held high.

In a league that often seems devoid of character and where the governing body continuously finds ways to punish players for their individuality, Allen was unapologetically his own man, through and through. Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas tweeted during NBA All-Star weekend that the NFL should take notes from the NBA about letting players be themselves, and while that’s true, Allen showed over the course of his career that you can have a successful career in the NFL while staying completely true to yourself.

He was also a hell of a player. Allen finishes his career with 136 career sacks, tied with Julius Peppers for ninth on the all-time list. Seven of the players above him are already enshrined in Canton. The other three are Kevin Greene, who was voted into the Hall of Fame this season, Jason Taylor who is not yet eligible, and Peppers, who is still active. He also ends his career with the unique honor of being tied for the most safeties caused in NFL history with four. Pro Football Reference compares Allen’s career favorably to Hall of Famers Howie Long, John Randle and Richard Dent, so a spot of his own in Canton is likely in the offing for Allen.

TULLOCH’S INFAMOUS DAYS IN DETROIT ARE OVER

It’s that time of year when teams have to make tough decisions about long-tenured players on big money contracts and we’re reminded that the business of the NFL is ruthless.

Allen was likely to get cut in Carolina, but he made it easy on the Panthers by retiring instead. That won’t be the case for others, and Stephen Tulloch is the latest victim of the business of the NFL. The linebacker posted to his Instagram account on Thursday that his time is up in Detroit after five seasons with the Lions.

Tulloch was set to earn $7.3 million in the final year of a five-year contract signed with Detroit in 2012, but releasing him saves the Lions $6 million against the cap, so the move was a no-brainer for the franchise.

The 10-year NFL veteran established himself as one of the league’s premier middle linebackers with the Tennessee Titans before moving on to Detroit and continuing to build on that legacy. But his time in Detroit will likely be remembered not for his 457 tackles, but for one blunder in 2014 that cost him most of that season. After sacking Aaron Rodgers during a Week 3 game against the Packers, Tulloch got up to celebrate and blew out his knee in the process, putting him on an infamous list along with Gramaticas of NFL players injured celebrating.

Months of agony followed as Tulloch rehabbed the injury and he finally made his way back to the field for the 2015 season, starting 15 of 16 games for the Lions. He managed 108 tackles, reaching the 100-tackle plateau for the sixth time in his career, but it wasn’t enough for Detroit to justify keeping him around at such a high cap hit.

Still Tulloch just turned 31 and appeared this season to have plenty in the tank to offer a team. It’s likely he’ll attempt to catch on with a contender after 10 years and just three playoff games, and plenty of them will be in the market for a player of his talents. One strong fit could be the Philadelphia Eagles, who hired Jim Schwartz as their defensive coordinator this offseason. Schwartz was defensive coordinator of the Titans when Tulloch was drafted and brought him to Detroit, where he was head coach, when Tulloch became available.

Wherever he winds up, Tulloch will be looking to put his 2014 celebration blunder further behind him and establish a different legacy for himself as best he can.

EDDIE LACY IS HUNGRY

Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, or perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek shot at what had become of Eddie Lacy, nonetheless new Green Bay Packers running back coach Ben Sirmans had some interesting things to say about his new pupil on Thursday.

Sirmans told the Green Bay Press Gazette that he had recently spoken to Lacy and left the conversation impressed by the person and the player.

“You can tell and get the sense that he’s very hungry this year to really get ready to get after it,” Sirmans said. “I spent a lot of time talking about myself because he has to feel comfortable with me as his head coach, and then from that giving him a chance to talk and telling him a little bit about his background and those things. So it was a pretty good conversation.”

Sirmans has been brought in to help revamp a Packers running game that, while ranking 12th in the league in yards per game, struggled with consistency, which ultimately cost Green Bay some games. A big reason for that was the performance of Lacy, who rushed for just 758 yards last season and had as many games with less than 10 yards rushing as he did games with over 100 yards rushing (three of each).

Lacy, who was coming off back-to-back 1,110-yards seasons in his first two NFL campaigns before his disappointing 2015 season has often been criticized for being overweight and not having the strong work ethic required to take the next step in the NFL. Lacy was listed at 234 pounds last season, but many believe he drifted over 250 during the season. His head coach Mike McCarthy essentially confirmed his much at the conclusion of the season, calling out Lacy’s conditioning and noting that Lacy simply cannot play at the weight he was in 2015 again.

But McCarthy sang a bit of a different tune on Thursday, seeming confident that Lacy was doing what he needed to this offseason to get in shape.

“Eddie Lacy’s conditioning and so forth is something I have great confidence will improve or is improving as we speak, and he’ll learn from his performance last season,” the coach told reporters.

This falls in line with a report that Lacy may be training with P90X creator Tony Horton in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Horton publicly offered his personal training services to Lacy at the end of the 2015 season and it is certainly possible Lacy took him up on that offer.

Training work in February will be just the beginning for Lacy, however, and he’ll need to stay on track through the entire offseason to be in proper shape for the Packers come training camp. Sirmans hopes to be able to help him, and he’s planning to utilize another former pupil, running back Steven Jackson, as a model for what Lacy can become.

“You know what, the thing he did…he took care of his body,” Sirmans told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel of Jackson. “I mean, even like the food we had, he had his own people and would sometimes bring his own lunch. That’s what I told our young guys, if you’re going to stick around (you have to take care of your body). This position you take a lot of pounding. For him, he wasn’t sharing any time with anyone else (at age 29).”

Jackson is, of course, a physical specimen and always has been. It’s what allowed him to have such a long career at a position that often cuts you down in your prime. In fact, Jackson is so committed to his body that even as he sat out for most of this season, he stayed in shape and that allowed him to make the leap from the couch to the huddle of the defending Super Bowl champions late in the season. Jackson is also a free agent, so perhaps a reunion in with Sirmans in Green Bay to help mentor Lacy could be in the offing. Who better to learn from than the man himself?


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys