Vikings veterans still expect to win in rebuilding

Published 9:27 am Thursday, August 2, 2012

MANKATO — Jared Allen is happy to help out the younger Minnesota Vikings, answering questions, giving advice or critiquing their performance.

But be clear about this, young fellas: You’re getting paid to play, so the expectations are just as high as they are for the veterans.

“This isn’t high school or college,” said Allen, who is beginning his ninth season in the NFL and fifth with the Vikings. “I can show them how to be a pro or show them the standards we expect, but at the end of the day, you have to do your job. If you can’t, we’ll find out pretty quick out here.”

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The Vikings are a case study of how fast the NFL landscape can change. In less than two years, they went from an experienced team with deep playoff hopes to a young squad that looked lost during most of 2011.

“I still feel like I’m playing at a high level, but every year is a concern of if I’m going to win a championship,” Allen said. “That’s where I just put my trust in the front office that they’re going to bring the players in, and our goals match up. I’m not in this to rebuild. I’m in this every year to compete for a championship, and they are too. And I truly believe that, and that’s why I love being a Minnesota Viking.”

On a team given a good chance to win a Super Bowl, there is obvious built-in motivation. But when an older player’s career window is closing faster than the team’s plan for championship contention is developing, the void could potentially be difficult to fill with other driving forces.