NFL

More to Vikings' Allen than lustrous locks

Preview Laura Okmin's interview with Jared Allen
Preview Laura Okmin's interview with Jared Allen
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Laura Okmin

Laura Okmin has more than 15 years of experience working for FOX Sports, FSN, CNN Sports and Westwood One Radio. Laura created 'PROfiles', a show profiling NFL personalities off the field, where viewers can see athletes in a completely different light, not limited to 20 second sound bites.

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ALL ACCESS: A lot of networks do TV interviews, but have you ever wanted to know the juicy details that never make it to the broadcast? You can tell a lot about who people really are when the cameras aren’t rolling. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the interview of Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was set up for the "PROfiles’’ show, hosted by Laura Okmin.


I was extremely apprehensive to do a PROfiles show on Jared Allen. With some players you’re not sure if they can — or want to — carry a 30-minute show. That wasn’t my problem doing a show on Jared, mind you. Actually, it was the opposite.

I knew Jared could carry a 30-minute episode. The problem was, would there be room enough for me?! Would I become unnecessary in my own show? I knew it was a possibility the way Jared can work a camera. In all seriousness, my favorite shows are the ones with the guys who don’t like doing media. I love having to work hard to get to know someone and gain their trust. The ones who seek out the cameras “like moths to a flame” can be extremely entertaining, but I think it’s the ones who are cautious with their words and their trust who make the most interesting shows.

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Jared is entertaining, funny and as charismatic as they come, but I hope the foundation of every PROfiles show is heart. And I simply didn’t know if underneath that mullet, Jared Allen had heart .

To quote Jared’s father, Ron, “If I could say anything to the world about Jared Allen it would be to look past the football and look past the mullet. Jared has heart. Jared has heart.”

Yes, surprise, surprise, I found out that Jared Allen does indeed have quite the heart.

We met for the shoot this summer at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was fresh off his honeymoon with his wife Amy (there were wedding presents still scattered all over the floor of their home. Toasters, flatware — these superstar millionaire athletes, they’re just like us!

We began the interview by talking about him cutting off his mullet, which he has always called a “lifestyle,” not a hairstyle.

I found out about Jared cutting off his trademark 'do by watching CNN. Seriously, I was watching the news one summer day while we were at war, as well as in the midst of the oil spill, and then across the crawl, there it was: “Vikings player Jared Allen cuts off his mullet." Yes, his hair was big news. Even bigger was the impetus for him doing it.

Amy didn’t want any wedding present, but there was one thing she did ask for after looking at old pictures of her soon-to-be husband with short hair. She wanted the mullet. Wanted it gone. Knowing nothing about football before she met him, Amy had never seen Jared without his “lifestyle,” and as he said, how could he not give her that?

He’s a new husband, but I can tell you that no man wants Jared Allen discussing relationships in front of his woman because that man will never hear the end of it when that woman eventually gets him alone.

Jared is a romantic and as passionate about the sanctity of marriage as he is about sacking a quarterback. It’s a little surreal sitting and talking to Jared Allen about love, but this man who has run with bulls in Spain, jumped out of airplanes and killed a boar with a knife, told me that the greatest adventure of all is ... marriage, because (and I’m quoting) “Who doesn’t want to spend every day for the rest of their life with their best friend? I mean..how cool is that?”

(If you’re a woman and just read that quote, you let out a deep sigh. If you’re a man ... you’re now hiding that quote.)

But losing a mullet and gaining a wife wasn’t the only change in Jared’s life. Last offseason he traveled with other NFL players to visit soldiers in the Persian Gulf on the USO tour. Jared has a grandfather and a younger brother who are Marines, so he is an avid military supporter, but he said going there and seeing what these men and women do every day really changed him.

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So much so that when he came back home he started a new foundation. It’s called Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors . Its mission is to build handicap-accessible homes for our soldiers.

After our interview, we went to the first golf tournament that he put on to raise money for the foundation. It was like nothing I had ever seen, yet everything I would picture from anything that Jared Allen does (you need to see the show to check it out. Let’s just say golf etiquette is thrown out the window).

It was during this event that I spent some time with Jared’s father and grandfather. If you’ve ever wondered where Jared gets his machismo from, all you need to do is meet these two men he calls his role models. His father, Ron, was a professional football player and one of the best horse trainers in the country. Ron’s father, Jared’s grandfather, Ray, to quote Jared, is “the toughest SOB I’ve ever met.” And I see his point. Ray Allen is 80 years old, but Jared says he wouldn’t fight him now.

Ray served 23 years in the Marines and is a decorated war hero, earning two Purple Hearts along with many other awards that cover his perfectly pressed uniform. He even insisted on wearing it to the golf tournament on an oppressive, 110-degree Arizona day. Ron and Ray are “men’s men” and as tough as they come, yet both often tear up when talking about Jared. They are proud of what he does, but even more so of who he is.

There was a time when both worried if he’d get his act together. If he, like every other 22-year- old, especially a 22-year-old who just came into an exorbitant amount of money, cared more about partying than responsibilities. They were full of stories — and emotions — talking about the changes they’ve seen Jared go through and the man he’s become, and that is my favorite part of this episode of PROfiles.

Jared is relentless, wild and manic on the field. But these days, there’s one thing he takes more seriously than his job: his life. He is a husband, a son, a grandson and a philanthropist and I hope everyone who watches the show enjoys seeing those sides as much as I did.

Beyond football, beyond the mullet, Jared Allen has heart.

Who knew?

 


To learn more about Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors, check out Jared's website or Facebook page.


 

"PROfiles" with Jared Allen appears on FSN all this week. Check your local listings.
 

Tagged: Vikings, Jared Allen

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