Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen runs onto the turf in the team’s practice facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., on June 5. (AP Photo)
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings wild man Jared Allen owns three bulls in the Professional Bull Riders series.
Of course he does.
The defensive end who came within a fingertip of breaking the single-season sack record two years ago has always been a bit of an adventurer off the field, hunting wild boar, running with the bulls in Pamplona and skydiving in a constant pursuit of adrenaline.
Now, every time he watches one of his bulls jump into the chute at an event, the hair stands up on the back of his neck and the crazy thoughts start jumping around in his head.
“They just tempt me every time I’m at a ride,” Allen said. “I’m like, ‘I got this.’ And I know I don’t.”
The Vikings might have something to say about that, so this season on the PBR’s Built Ford Tough series, Allen is going to put those bulls to work for an even better cause. He is teaming with the PBR to help benefit his Homes for Wounded Warriors foundation, a charity founded in 2009 that builds handicap-accessible homes and remodels for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
For Allen, it was a chance to bring two of his biggest passions off the field together.
“I think it’s a cool cross promotion,” Allen said. “We can reach so many from the sports side with the Vikings. We reach so many levels, and now we can branch out to the PBR and find another demographic that really fits into what we’re doing.”
The PBR will help market merchandise like T-shirts and hats with Allen’s bulls — Hot Iron, HY Test and Thumbs Up — and the H4WW logo of his foundation. There will also be advertisement for the program’s text-to-donate vehicle to help raise funds during the rides themselves. The first event will be the Express Employment Professionals Classic in Tulsa, Okla., on Aug. 16-17.
“There’s 10 seconds right there where the announcer’s talking about the foundation,” Allen said. “There’s 10 seconds where it’s on someone’s mind. Just putting it on the TV is going to be huge for us.”
The foundation has a goal of building three to five houses this year, but Allen hopes that this new partnership will help increase that number to five to 10 next year.
Allen’s association with the PBR will also help him promote bull riding and rodeos, activities that were engrained in him growing up on a ranch in California. He said his dad would put him and his brother on cows for rides when they were 5 years old.
“My dad and grandpa thought it was really funny to put us on,” he said. “The cows always won.”
If Allen can use his popularity to help raise the profile of a niche sport that is near and dear to his heart, great. But for him, nothing can top the feeling that he gets from seeing a veteran in need move into a new home.
“When you give someone a key to their home that is fit specifically for them, the joy you see in that person, it’s life-changing,” Allen said. “It’s a small way we can say thank you.”