NFL alum Jared Allen turned 40 earlier this year and the Vikings gave him a belated birthday present last week when he was announced as the newest member of the team’s prestigious Ring of Honor.

Team owners Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf set it up by inviting him to speak to the current Vikings squad last Friday. After Allen’s remarks, rookie head coach Kevin O’Connell casually made the Ring of Honor announcement before the players and staff.

“I had no idea it was coming, none,” said Allen, who was an inspirational team leader during his Vikings career. “They invited me to speak to the team which was probably the only way I would go back to any training camp. It’s humbling to know that all the hard work I did here has stood the test of time.”

Allen was a fourth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2004. He was traded for a first rounder and a pair of third round draft choices in April 2008 and played six outstanding years (2008-13) in Minnesota. His formal Ring of Honor induction will be at halftime of the Vikes’ game against the Cardinals on October 30. He joins six other Vikings defensive linemen who have earned this distinguished honor: Alan Page, Carl Eller, John Randle, Kevin Williams, Jim Marshall and the late Chris Doleman.

“Jared played with a passion, energy and drive that few players are able to match for as long as he did,” says Mark Wilf. “He raised the level of play for everyone around him with his relentless approach and he set a positive example with his engagement in our local community. We are excited that he forever will be remembered as a Viking.”

Allen finished his 12-year career with 85.5 sacks, including a Vikings record 22 in 2011. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and is an NFL co-record holder for most career safeties (4), safeties in a season (2) and seasons leading the league in sacks (2).

The Vikings outstanding receiver Adam Thielen was on the practice squad during Allen’s final season with the team. He watched Allen’s announcement last week with his current teammates.

“I always try to emulate Jared’s tremendous energy,” Thielen says. “He brought it every day on the field, in meetings and in the locker room. This is a well-deserved honor.”

We at NFL Alumni agree that Jared Allen is a worthy recipient of the Ring of Honor Award. He twice has been named as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It may be just a matter of time before he finally is enshrined in Canton. Skoal, Vikings!