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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Minnesota Vikings' Jared Allen talks about hunt for Brett Favre

All-Pro defensive end doesn't pull any punches when talking about the prospect of playing with the quarterback.

July 19, 2009|SAM FARMER

Whether it's planting a steel-tipped spear between the shoulder blades of an elk or his Minnesota Vikings helmet between the numbers of a quarterback, Jared Allen is all about the hunt.

But even the most patient of hunters has his limits, and Allen has pretty much reached his when it comes to Minnesota's months-long pursuit of Brett Favre.

"If we get Brett, then that's a bonus," the All-Pro defensive end said in a phone interview. "But let's either get it done and get moving on with it, or let it go. It's not so much that it's a distraction, because we're all professionals and we don't really buy into that, but it's annoying, let's put it that way."

Allen, traded to the Vikings a year ago, led a defensive resurgence in Minnesota last season while collecting 14 1/2 sacks and three forced fumbles. He doesn't do a politically correct two-step when addressing the Favre issue, doesn't seem overly concerned about bruising the egos of Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels -- the current starting candidates -- but has grown tired of the on-again, off-again Brett Watch. Favre recently told the Associated Press that he intended to tell the Vikings yes or no at the end of this month, depending on how his shoulder felt.

"I say it all the time: If you can get a player of that caliber at any position, you take him," Allen said. "If Lawrence Taylor came out of retirement, you take him just to see what he can do. . . . Brett's great. I'm a fan of his. He's absolutely proven that he's one of the best ever at what he does.

"But our goals going into the off-season weren't, let's win a championship if we get Brett Favre. It's, we're going to win a championship. And I feel like we've got two able quarterbacks to get that done."

In his cross hairs

Allen is an avid outdoorsman who's passionate about hunting -- lately with a bow and even a spear (his aforementioned elk encounter is on YouTube) -- and spent three weeks of this off-season on an African safari with Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Houston's Boomer Grigsby.

But what pays the bills is Allen's ability to track down the guy with the football, and he should have some interesting quarterback hunting this season, especially with NFC North newcomers Jay Cutler in Chicago and Matthew Stafford in Detroit.

Allen says he likes and respects Cutler, having gotten to know him when they were both playing in the AFC West, but he's not ready to give a bit of respect to the Lions' No. 1 pick.

"Rookies are rookies, and you treat them like rookies," he said. "You throw the kitchen sink at them and hit them with every wrench along the way. No respect. He got millions of dollars, and for what? He ain't done nothing yet."

Make no mistake, Allen said he has no intention of cutting any slack to Cutler, even though they have a history. In fact, he prefers smacking around the guys he knows best.

"It's easier to play somebody you don't like," Allen said. "But it's that thrill of playing somebody you do like. It's awesome to hit them in the back of the head. Because then when you see them in the off-season, you can say, 'Hey, remember when I tattooed your face to the ground?'

"The more I like you, the more I want to smash your face into the ground. I have an enormous amount of respect for people who are the best at their position. Peyton Manning, it took me five years to sack him. I hit the . . . out of that dude every time I played him, but I just got my first sack of him last year."

As for Cutler, he doesn't go quietly. He and Allen have a running conversation every time they face each other.

"Jay loves to talk," he said. "I think I missed him on one sack and he let me hear about it the whole time: 'Hey, Jared, you missed me! You missed me!' I like him because he's not afraid to say something or show his emotions."

He'll get no argument from the Broncos on that.

Running into a wall

Whereas the Vikings had the league's best rush defense last season, the Baltimore Ravens' was two spots -- and a total of 72 yards -- behind them.

Part of that was the play of Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who last week signed a six-year contract extension worth $63 million over the life of the deal.

A major point of pride for Baltimore's defense: It hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Kansas City's Larry Johnson on Dec. 10, 2006. That's a 34-game streak, the league's longest.

"It's basically, you're not going to run on us," Suggs said. "We're going to manhandle you, and you're going to take it. You have no choice."

It will be even more impressive if the Ravens keep that trend intact through the first third of the season, when their schedule features San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and New England's Fred Taylor -- who are aging yet still potentially explosive -- and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.

L.A. story

Developer Ed Roski was recognized last week by the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission, which named him Community Sportsman of the Year.

He's angling to build an $800-million NFL stadium in Industry and says he'll be ready to break ground on it by the time one outstanding lawsuit from Walnut is resolved.

"The Los Angeles stadium project is in the red zone, first and goal," Roski said, using words we've heard with a lot of concepts that came before his and eventually fizzled.

Likable and credible as Roski is, there's no getting around that returning to L.A. is way down on the to-do list for the NFL, whose No. 1 priority by far is working out a new collective bargaining agreement with its players. Regardless, Roski's right-hand man, John Semcken, says they'll be ready to officially start team shopping in December.

Tweet of the week

(@grantwahl) If I hear one more coach/athlete say he's reading Sun Tzu's "Art of War" I think my head will explode.

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesfarmer

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