The Jared Allen the Raiders will see Sunday is not the same wild man who has spent his life seeking out adrenaline rushes.
He has jumped from a plane, run with the bulls, swum with sharks and even hunted a wild boar with just a knife. But during the Minnesota Vikings' recent bye week, Allen, the NFL sacks leader, embarked upon a more domestic adventure:
"All that other stuff was just life and death," said Allen, 29, a Los Gatos High product. "I can't fail at this, because it's far more important."
Since his wife, Amy, gave birth on Oct. 27 to their first child, daughter Brinley Noelle, Allen has been knee-deep in bottles and diapers. It's the latest sign of how he has tamed his lifestyle.
That abundance of thrill-seeking energy now is channeled into game day, where he has become arguably the NFL's most destructive, one-man wrecking crew. Allen has 13½ sacks this season -- putting him within striking distance of Michael Strahan's NFL record of 22½ set in 2001.
"He jumps out on film," said Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer, the man who'll be most responsible for containing Allen. "He is really tearing it up right now."
The Vikings are 2-7 and have turned to rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. They were thumped Monday night on national television, 45-7 by Green Bay.
But the exuberant Allen has risen above it. He said the combination of wanting to bounce back from a so-so 2010 season -- his 11 sacks were his lowest total since 2006 while with the Kansas City Chiefs -- and a growing spiritual faith has changed his outlook.
"Last year was miserable, and it got to me a little bit," Allen said. "But this year, I decided that I wanted to have fun. And when you have that inner peace, you just have a much better attitude about life. I'm not going to be able to do this forever, so I might as well enjoy it now."
It shows, and that's why ESPN analyst Jon Gruden couldn't stop raving about him during Monday's telecast.
"Effort, effort, effort," Gruden said at one point. "Relentless motor. He plays with tremendous intensity."
The defensive end is more than just a pass-rushing specialist, even though he has at least one-half sack in 11 consecutive games. He also has 41 tackles, has forced three fumbles and recovered three more, deflected three passes and made one interception.
The Packers did what most teams try against Allen -- shift over extra blockers. It didn't work as he recorded a sack and seven tackles.
"Whether you got two guys or three guys, if you blink, he's gone," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of Allen. "He's going 100 mph every single snap. What I find sometimes is a tackle will think, 'OK, well, the running back has him now.' Or the tight end will say, 'Well, the tackle has him now.' And Jared, he's still going hard. The next thing you know, he's on the quarterback."
Allen might be an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate if his accomplishments weren't lost amid all of Minnesota's defeats. But he has the Raiders' complete attention.
"He has a burning desire to be one of the best at what he does, and he is," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. "That's why he doesn't get stopped, and he's an issue for our football team."
Allen, who attended Idaho State, has 96½ sacks since entering the league in 2004 -- the most in that eight-season span.
But early in his career with the Chiefs, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound lineman was known for hard partying as well as playing hard. While toning that down, he still has his own sense of style.
Allen celebrates sacks with a lasso-pantomiming move.
But he's also extremely active in the community with a summer golf tournament that benefits his Homes for Wounded Warriors foundation. This year he added a new twist -- inviting servicemen to bark like drill sergeants at participants as they teed off.
He also freely admits to keeping an eye on Strahan's mark.
"The reason they keep records is so they can be broken, right?" Allen said. "I'm a very competitive person. But you can't let that become what you're about or your main focus."
One of his focuses has been his fascination with dangerous activities, although he swears swimming with sharks is safer than it sounds.
"I was in a cage," he said. "I didn't want to be eaten by a shark."
While Allen still likes to hunt and fish, he has curtailed his more extreme adventures.
"It's not like I ever tried to risk my life before," he added. "I never had a death wish. They just looked like fun things. But I'll probably steer more toward family fun things now."
Except on Sundays, of course.
Jerry McDonald contributed to this report. Contact Mark Emmons at 408-920-5745.