Former Vikings’ player testing ‘old dog, new tricks’
As you would expect, former NFL All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen is no stranger to curls. What might surprise you is that he’s no stranger to the sport curling either.
It all started when one of Allen’s friends challenged him to become an Olympian. He first thought he would try to make it in badminton, but his interests later shifted to curling. That’s when he called a few of his NFL friends, and they agreed to make a run for gold with him. That happened last March, and they’ve been practicing and competing ever since.
Jared Allen is the skip of the team, which is essentially the team captain. He is responsible for the team’s strategy in each shot and usually throws the last two rocks. The team’s lead is former Pro Bowl quarterback Marc Bulger. The lead is the curler that throws the first two rocks. Former NFL linebacker Keith Bullock is the second on the team. The second is the curler that throws the second pair of rocks. Bullock received one All-Pro selection during his 11-year career. The final member of the team, the third, is former All-Pro offensive tackle Michael Roos. The third on the team throws the third pair of rocks and acts as the skip when the skip throws the final rocks. The team decided to name themselves the “All-Pro Curling Team.”
Obviously, making it to the Olympics is no easy task, especially in a country full of talented athletes. To add further difficulty, most Olympic hopefuls have been curling competitively for years. Any rational human would say it’s practically impossible for a group of former NFL players, now middle-aged, to pick up curling and make it to the Olympics in just four years. But Jared Allen and friends aren’t discouraged by the doubters and skeptics. They’re hoping their mental toughness, coachability and drive can get them to an elite performance level in a short amount of time. They’re truly testing whether or not old dogs can learn new tricks.
In order to get to an elite level, they’ve hired some help. They’ve hired former Olympian John Benton to be their coach. Benton is a Minnesota native, and he competed in the 2010 Olympic Games but failed to medal. With his help, the All-Pro Curling Team hopes to drastically improve their technique.
In order to even make it to the Olympic Trials, Allen’s team has to score enough points in national and international competitions. Assuming they accomplish that, they then have to actually win the Olympic trials. This is a real challenge for established curling clubs and a near impossibility for a curling team that hasn’t even won a match yet. None of the team members have won a Super Bowl, so why would curling be any different?
The All-Pro Curling Team plans to compete in the 2021 Olympic Trials, which gives them a couple years to make a name for themselves. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but you can add me to the list of doubters.