The five-time Pro Bowler signed a four-year, $32 million deal ($15.5 million guaranteed) with the Bears. He'll replace veteran defensive end Julius Peppers, who signed with Green Bay. Allen, 32, ranks 12th on the alltime sack list, with 128½.
DAN PATRICK:Why Chicago?
JARED ALLEN: Everything just fell in line. This wasn't just a process of who was going to throw the most money at me. I had a list of things that were important to me. I wanted to make sure I could believe in the coaching philosophy and the organization.
DP:How close did you come to signing with Seattle?
JA: Very. It's a phenomenal organization. The Bears thing happened last minute. It was a stealth move by them. I found out at five in the morning that [the deal] was done.
DP:How important was the chance to play the Vikings twice?
JA: To be in the same division I've been in for so many years ... that's part of the reason the Bears were attractive to me. I know what it's like to prepare against the Chicago Bears. It's frustrating. I haven't won in Chicago in six years. The fact that I'm playing the Vikings doesn't have any bearing.
DP:Any chance you could have stayed in Minnesota?
JA: There was always a chance. But they were going in a different direction with a new staff. They were getting younger. No one was taken by surprise. I have nothing but love and respect for the Vikings' organization.
DP:How many sacks do you need to get into the Hall of Fame?
JA: I don't know. I just keep crossing Hall of Famers off as I pass 'em on the list.
DP:There has to be a magic number.
JA: Being drafted by Kansas City, one way I benchmarked my career was against Derrick Thomas. It was a huge deal for me to pass him on the alltime list in one season less than it took him.
DP:One hundred fifty?
JA: I would hope that would work.
DP:Don't try to pretend you're not counting.
JA: I know exactly where I am. With a good year this year I could pass [Michael] Strahan. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it. But it's not my motivation. I want a chance to win a championship. To be with a team that has an offense that can put up points, that's what's exciting.
DP:How many times did you sack Jay Cutler?
JA: Quite a few. I've been playing against Cutler since he was in Denver.
DP:Now you can't even hit him in practice.
JA: Yeah, now I have to tap him on the keister as I run by him.
I asked Cal Ripken Jr. if he would rather have his career or Derek Jeter's. "I'd rather have Derek's," Ripken said. "A bad year for Derek is losing in the first round of the playoffs. I was totally jealous. I had a few chances, but I wanted a whole lot more than that." ... New Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski won't schedule Duke after spending 15 years in Durham as an assistant. "That's not something Coach K likes to do, play his former guys," Wojo told me. "There's too much emotion. It's better to compete against people outside our family." ... Jim Nantz stayed in the same Dallas hotel at the Final Four as he did the first time he called the event for CBS, in 1986: "I remember showing up here frightened out of my mind. I had this outer presentation that I was Mr. Cool. Internally I was screaming, What are they doing? Don't they know I'm 26 and about to go on in prime time."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
MATT MARTON/AP (ALLEN)
JOHN RAOUX/AP (RIPKEN)
JEFFREY PHELPS/AP (WOJCIECHOWSKI)
STREETER LECKA/GETTY IMAGES FOR NAISMITH BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME (NANTZ)