Former NFL players Jared Allen, Marc Bulger, Keith Bullock and Michael Roos want to take their passion for curling all the way to the Olympics.
Their NFL days might be over, but former Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and three other former players are looking to extend their athletic careers–as Olympic curlers.
It all started with a bet from Allen's friend. Then, it turned into a serious goal, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
"My friend told me I couldn’t become an Olympian,” Allen told the Pioneer Press. “It was kind of just talk, and then I started looking at some of the sports I thought I’d be capable of doing. I was actually looking at badminton at first, and then it kind of transpired into curling. That’s kind of how everything got started."
Allen currently lives in Nashville and called up a few local former NFL players to see if they'd be interested in creating a team. Ex-Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, ex-linebacker Keith Bulluck and ex-offensive lineman Michael Roos put together the "All-Pro Curling Team" in March and set their sights on the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. There was just one problem–no one had ever thrown a curling rock.
The team hired former Olympic curler John Benton as their coach and quickly learned just how much core strength they needed to accurately slide the rock. Allen told the Pioneer Press that it was "a bit awkward at first, and we all fell a bunch."
On Friday night, Allen, Bulger, Benton and professional Hunter Clawson will compete at the Curl Mesabi Classic in Eveleth, Minn. Roos and Bulluck usually compete with the team but will be in Nashville this weekend. Allen and his teammates will face their biggest challenge yet Friday, going up against Team USA's gold medalists Team Schuster.
"We have nothing to lose," Allen said. "It’s like we’re a Division I-AA team going up against freaking Alabama. Nobody expects us to do anything. Hopefully we leave some people pleasantly surprised."
No matter how Friday's competition turns out, the All-Pro Curling Team expects to keep improving as they aim to participate in World Curling Tour events next year. The quartet also hopes to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
"A group of retired NFL players taking up curling at a competitive level; we know how it sounds," Allen said. "We are having a lot of fun with it; we also take it really seriously. We aren’t coming in to disrespect the curling world. We just want to be a part of it."