RIVER FALLS, Wis. (AP) -Just as Jared Allen was getting on a plane bound for Spain, a quarter of a million dollars dropped into his lap. At the same time, a wider opportunity for a successful 2007 season appeared for the Kansas City Chiefs.
``It was a great way to start a vacation,'' Kansas City's defensive end said with a huge grin. ``I was very, very pleased.''
So were the Chiefs. In an act of forgiveness that took everyone by surprise amid the tense climate of diminishing tolerance of off-the-field misconduct, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saluted Allen's vow to clean up his act. Allen's four-game suspension for repeated DUI arrests was cut in half.
Now, instead of sitting out a whole month of what could be a rough stretch on the schedule, the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder will miss only the first two games - road tests at Houston and Chicago. He will make his return, no doubt to ringing applause in a sold-out Arrowhead Stadium, in the home opener Sept. 23 again the Minnesota Vikings.
He was boarding the plane earlier this month when his agent called with the good news.
``We went through the appeal process and it worked,'' Allen said. ``I was ecstatic. It was awesome. All I've been doing since the whole incident happened is living right, letting my actions speak for myself. It obviously paid off.''
Getting docked four games would have cost Allen, one of the game's best young defensive ends, about $500,000. It also would have meant that Turk McBride, a raw rookie drafted out of Tennessee in the second round, would have been asked to shoulder a bigger load in his first few games as a pro than the Chiefs would want.
Now, according to terms laid down by the league, Allen can take part in all preseason meetings, practices and games. He also can sit in on team meetings and have use of team facilities during his two-week regular-season suspension.
When the Chiefs open their season in Houston on Sept. 9, Allen figures he'll be as close to the action as he can get - sitting in the stands cheering them on.
``I'll fly down there to Houston and be with the team, hang out with them,'' he said.
``Two weeks is nothing. People roll their ankles and stay out two weeks. Getting the two games back really does mean a lot,'' Allen said.
``Now I can go through camp with my teammates and really feel like I'm getting ready to play. A month would be tough to do because you don't want to get game-ready and be out a whole month and risk injury when you come back. But with the two weeks off, I get to be with the team, then get a little rest. They come off the road, and we're ready to play a game.''
Before the commissioner's good news came down July 15, the Chiefs were planning to give McBride more attention in training camp than a rookie would normally expect.
``We already anticipated that whatever time he missed we were going to do it a certain way,'' said coach Herm Edwards. ``Whether it was two or four, we had that in mind. We're thankful that the commissioner ruled it would be two and we're preparing it that way. Eventually we'd like to move (McBride) inside because he can rush on the ball. We want to get our best rush guys on the field and he can move in and out. He'll probably start off the season as our starting end.''
Allen knows he was fortunate. In a subtle way, he was reminded of that in remarks that Edwards and Clark Hunt, the Chiefs' chairman of the board, made to the team when they arrived in River Falls on Thursday.
Edwards said his message was simple.
``You have to understand everyone's looking at us with a very fine eye,'' he said. ``When you have judgment errors in what you do or say, it's going to get talked about. You put yourself and your program in a bad light. It takes a lifetime for you to build your character, who you are. It can take 30 seconds of a bad decision to wipe all that out.''

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