Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 8/16/12

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 05: Defensive end Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings pumps up the crowd during the Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers on October 5, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MANKATO, Minn. Look around training camp in Mankato or a Sunday home game at the Metrodome and there are still reminders of the hard-charging, fun-loving attitude Jared Allen brought to the Minnesota Vikings in 2008. Allen's fans wear shirts with the four-time Pro Bowl selection's No. 69 printed on them. But unlike with other players' apparel, Allen's nameplate on the back is often replaced by "Sax Machine" or "Mullet Militia." The shirts, created by Allen's own clothing company, reflect the larger-than-life persona of the onetime mullet-wearing pass rusher. Allen still gets a laugh from the shirts. "First of all, Sax Machine was just hilarious," Allen said recently during his fifth training camp with the Vikings. "That thing was funny. A play on Kenny G, everybody knows that." Allen still likes to have fun. But the mullet -- which Allen had referred to as a "lifestyle" -- is gone, replaced by a trim cut and a receding hairline the defensive end isn't too happy about. He's 30, married and has a daughter. Allen has changed, matured as he's gotten older and gone through life's trials. Oh, and he's as dangerous as ever on the football field. Perhaps his changes off the field have made Allen even more effective on it. The mullet was gone in 2010 as he prepared for his wedding, and a baby girl in 2011 continued his growth. Focused as ever, Allen followed through with his best season in 2011 -- he racked up 22 sacks, just a half-sack shy of the NFL single-season record. An all-around season that included a career-high 86 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, four fumbles caused, four fumble recoveries and an interception helped Allen finish second in Defensive Player of the Year voting. That type of season would normally feed into the persona Allen had brought with him from Kansas City. However, Allen isn't worried about his persona. "For me, I'm just constantly trying to grow as a man, grow as a father, grow as a husband, grow in my faith," Allen said. "I don't think you ever stop growing, personally. I'd be 100 years old, hopefully, and still trying to learn new things. For me, there's no persona, there's no nothing. It's just me having fun. It's just what it is." Allen came to Minnesota in a trade days before the 2008 draft with the Vikings giving up four draft picks, including a first-rounder and two third-rounders. Allen's lifestyle might be one of the reasons he was available. He was an elite pass rusher, coming off a 15.5-sack season for the Chiefs in which he was named an All-Pro. But he was also arrested twice within five months in 2006 on DUI charges. He was suspended four games during the 2007 season and also feuded, sometimes publicly, with then Kansas City general manager Carl Peterson. Allen became a Vikings fan favorite immediately, and his fun-loving attitude and mullet were part of the attraction. He has had at least 11 sacks in each of his four seasons with Minnesota and has been a first-team All-Pro in three of those seasons. There also haven't been any legal issues for Allen since the trade. Employing a lesson he learned from former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, Allen no longer puts style before substance. "I understand who I am," he said. "Coach Herm Edwards was an instrumental part of my life and my career. Herm used to say, 'I'll take good men. I'd rather have a team full of good men because they'll be good football players.' It's true. That's what I try to tell the young guys, 'When you have your personal life in order off the field, it just makes your on-the-field life so much easier because you can concentrate on work.'" The growth in Allen is evident in his words. He has committed off the field to his family. He's active with the Wounded Warriors and juvenile diabetes charities. In 2009, Allen was part of a USO tour in Iraq. And when it comes to football, he is driven to be the best defensive player in the NFL. He trains tirelessly in the offseason in Arizona, using mixed martial arts to increase his stamina, strength and speed. Allen doesn't participate in Minnesota's voluntary offseason workouts but instead stays in Arizona, sharpening a regimen that has served him well. "It's been a blessing," Allen said of mixed martial arts, which he's used for six years. "It's totally different the way the worlds cross. Fight training pushes you on a personal level past your mental blocks. That's what's cool about it." Allen has the individual accolades. He says his focus now is helping the Vikings reach the ultimate team goal of the Super Bowl. A Super Bowl run -- however far off that seems following a 3-13 season -- would certainly have more Vikings fans joining the "Mullet Militia," or maybe the "Skullet Militia." "I mean, mullets are awesome," Allen said. "Let's be honest, if I could grow one again without my hair falling out ... I'm balding rapidly fast. So when I'm bald, I'm going to have a skullet. That will be pretty funny. Like the cul-de-sac look, that will be cool. You've just got to have fun." A more mature Allen? Sure, but he'll always be having fun. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Twitter, Facebook report engagement decline during Super Bowl

Steve Spurrier becomes special assistant to South Carolina AD

Brent Musberger wants you to bet on Joe Lunardi’s bracketology

Unranked Duke uses big first half to beat No.13 Louisville

MLB reportedly close to rule preventing collisions at second base

USOC says athletes concern about Zika shouldn't attend Games

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Von Miller shares support for embattled Johnny Manziel

The Panthers had to use a silent snap count at the Super Bowl

Report: Lakers would fire Byron Scott to hire Luke Walton

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Daniel Bryan says goodbye to WWE during teary retirement speech

Paul George delivers great line about driving by Kobe Bryant

WATCH: Oklahoma beats Texas on Buddy Hield's 3-pointer

Andre Drummond hits 70-foot buzzer beater to end 3rd quarter

Duke's Allen appears to intentionally trip Louisville's Spaulding

Candidates for New York Knicks head coaching job

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker