Defensive end Jared Allen announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday, using a Twitter video of himself “riding off into the sunset” to put the finishing touches on one of the most productive pass-rushing careers in the league’s history.
“I want to take this time to thank my family, friends fans, and teammates who have given their continued support throughout my 12 year career,” Allen said in a statement. “It’s been a great ride for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the memories. It is with a great deal of thought and consideration, that I have decided that I will not return to football next year. I want to thank the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs organizations, who provided me with an opportunity to live out my dream and to be a part of their wonderful communities. Thanks for the life long memories.”
Now, the discussion around Allen’s distinguished career will shift from his quest for a Super Bowl ring to his qualifications for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He figures to have a strong case for the game’s top honor.
Allen, 33, played 12 NFL seasons for four different teams. He will finish his career with 136.0 sacks, which ranks ninth all-time. Of the eight players ahead of him, seven are either in the Hall of Fame or entering this year (Kevin Greene), and Jason Taylor—the one still waiting—is eligible for enshrinement next year.
Allen led the NFL in sacks twice, including during the 2011 season—when he posted 22.0 and threatened the all-time single season record. He finished a half-sack behind Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5.
Most Hall of Fame players enjoyed a transcendent period in their playing career. Allen certainly had his.
He delivered at least 10 sacks in seven straight seasons from 2007 to 2013, earning four first-team All-Pro honors and five Pro Bowl selections in the process. No player in the NFL produced more sacks than Allen’s 101.0 during the seven-season span.
He faded during his final two NFL seasons, registering just 7.5 total sacks with the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers. Allen’s last ditch attempt to win a Super Bowl came up short, as the Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos last month. Overall, Allen played in just seven postseason games, registering four sacks and two forced fumbles.
Also, with Julius Peppers and DeMarcus Ware returning for 2016, Allen is likely to fall down the all-time rankings in career sacks next season.
However, Allen wasn’t just a one-trick pony. He also produced 32 forced fumbles, 19 fumble recoveries, four safeties (NFL record), 58 passes defended and two defensive touchdowns. He missed just five games in his NFL career. Used as a goal-line receiver during his final season in Kansas City, Allen also caught two touchdown passes.
A model of productivity and consistency, Allen has produced a career worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But even the most prolific of pass-rushers occasionally take time to get the call (see: Kevin Greene, Chris Doleman), which means Allen might not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible in 2021.