Allen was listed as doubtful on the injury report on Saturday. It was a long shot that he would even dress for the game, much less contribute. But he reported the swelling in the shoulder went down Sunday morning and he told coach Brad Childress he wanted to give it a try. Childress said OK.
Allen put on a shoulder harness and took a shot to numb the pain, then the 6-6, 270-pound defensive end spent the day harassing Rodgers. In addition to the sack for a safety, Allen had two other tackles, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry. He was in the Green Bay backfield all day.
"He's a rare bird and a high motor," Childress said of Allen, who was acquired in a trade with Kansas City prior to the April draft. "The one thing he likes is, he likes to play the game. He was not going to be denied, no way."
For Allen, it was his second safety of the season, tying an NFL record shared by 14 other players including VikingsHall of Famer Alan Page (1971). But Allen's gutty performance was more reminiscent of another ex-Viking, defensive end Jim Marshall. A true ironman, Marshall set a league record by playing in 282 consecutive regular season games from 1960 through 1979. He shrugged off countless injuries along the way.
Fred Zamberletti, the Vikings' long-time trainer, recalled Marshall separating his shoulder in a preseason game and refusing to leave the field. "I remember him saying, 'You can't keep me from playing,'" Zamberletti said. "The coaches sat him down and, oh boy, was he mad. Of course, he played the next week."
"I'm probably able to endure pain better than most guys," Marshall once said. "Really, it's a matter of positive thinking. I've studied the association of mind and body, the harmony between the two. There are times when the effect of an injury can be minimized by positive thinking. If you tell yourself, 'My knee hurts and we're playing on artificial turf this week,' you might as well be on crutches. My attitude is, 'I'm going to play because that's what they pay you for.'"
To keep his streak going, Marshall played through acute bronchitis, pneumonia, cracked ribs, a stomach ulcer, a broken wrist, a shoulder separation, assorted broken fingers and sprains as well as a gunshot wound. He was cleaning a shotgun when it discharged and ripped a hole in his side. But every Sunday, he was lined up at defensive end. Allen did the same against the Packers.
"I figure pain is part of knowing you're alive out there," Allen said after the game. "I also know that I pride myself in this is what I love to do. I think it's more of a pride issue but for the fact that some of the old-time players, guys like Jack Youngblood (ex-Ram) playing with a broken leg, guys with busted noses and arms and shoulders, and I kind of think of myself as an old-school player."
A player like Jim Marshall.