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Home / Sports / Jared Allen's curling team of ex-NFLers starts from below and strives for the Olympics

Jared Allen's curling team of ex-NFLers starts from below and strives for the Olympics



This does not happen with the skeleton or short-track skating and definitely not with ski jumping because we have all the families that love us. But we all thought about it while watching the Olympic curling: how hard can it be? The calculated going. The histrionics scream. Push the stone or whatever it is called. After five minutes watching, try to find a way to get into this Olympic team.

Jared Allen has been thinking a little bit more about this scheme, and he definitely does.

During the 2018 Winter Olympics- But before Team USA had won its last five games to win gold, former defender of the Viking defense had dined with Hockey Hall of Famer Lou Nanne and told him he want to deal with the curling. Allen set a goal to create the Olympic team in 2022. Nanne told this story (1

0 minutes) on a sports radio station in Minneapolis, and the right person listened. After hearing about Allen's plan, the Curling Facility Manager and 2010 Olympic gold medal winner John Benton, he reached out to offer his services.

Allen recruited a few old NFL friends to round out his team: quarterback Marc Bulger, linebacker Keith Bulluck, and offensive attack Michael Roos. The four Pro Bowlers are now a professional curling team. Benton is listed as a substitute, but he says his role is primarily the coach.

Allen's journey began in Nashville, with ice presses provided by the Predators at one of their ice facilities . Benton began working with the squad on the delivery mechanics and about once a month Team Allen (or the "All-Pro Curling Team," as they call it) flies to Blaine, Minn., USA Curling's practice ground , the Four Seasons Curling Club, where Benton is operational director.

None of them has been curled for more than a year. Anyone who has curled up knows that a "first year" team is relatively easy to play in every new league. Of course, a team with 40 NFL experience is not the typical first year team.

"Her slipping was pretty good after three weeks," Benton said. These newcomers to the grid also have some advantages over their competitors. "You are not afraid of anything. They had curling shoes with full sliders, and they all fell at one point or another, but that did not tarnish them.

Team Allen started the season by entering recreational game of bonuses, where you can usually win door prizes. They deliberately kept back. "They did not want to respect the sport and disrespect those who had done it all their lives," Benton said, noting that he should not look like a PR stunt.

The secrecy vanished on November 30 in the Curl Mesabi Classic. With Roos and Bulluck out of the event due to scheduling conflicts, Benton skipped while Allen finished third and Benton's one-time team-mate Hunter Clawson rounded out the team. They won no game, but came close to some. They also had the unenviable task of playing John Shuster's gold medal in the first game, and lost 11: 3.

Team Allen has not yet developed a gameplay style; Benton noticed that they are still working on their finesse game. Perhaps the most interesting – and who knows if curved brooms are in the future – he still has to figure out how to use his huge bodies to maximize sweeping performance. For example, Roos is 6 feet-7 and 320 pounds. Benton has never met anyone. For comparison: Team Koe leads . Ben Hebert – the Kehler I always say he wished you had on your team – is 5 feet 11 and 210. There were big guys in the game – the 2014 Russian Petr Petr was 6 feet 6 – but Dron was 6 feet As the prospectus analyst would like to say, there is a lot of upside potential here.

Despite zero WCT victories and therefore no points on the Order of Merit, they remain unimpressed and play this week in the US National Championship Challenge Round at the Four Seasons Curling Club. The 16-man team is fighting for four places to round off the national team of 10 teams next month in Kalamazoo. Allen's first game in this Triple Knockout tournament was on Thursday. They were beaten loudly, 10-1. (You can watch the streams of their games on their YouTube channel.)

Regardless of how they behave in the Challenge Round, Team Allen will travel to Arizona later this month to attend the Ed Werenich Golden Wrench Classic, a popular tournament with several North American teams, including six in the top 40. They will try to take part in a few more tournaments to end the season and then start planning a full schedule (8-10 events). for 2019-20. Benton acknowledged that they could not compete realistically in 2018, but since it's all about creating the US Olympic team in four years, this is the best and only way to experience Olympic-style games – that is time-limited games with ten ends

Yes, ambitious aspirations. While Team Allen has signed up for four years, they must really rise to the top 5 in the US by the end of the 2020-21 season and force the USCA's hand. Because if someone has the right knowledge to bring four athletes together and break the system, then it's Benton.

In the final cycle of the Olympics, Benton has teamed up with Todd Birr's team along with Rich Ruohonen and Tom O & Connor. They were national runners-up in 2017. They were nationally ranked fifth. They were good old (Benton, Birr and Ruohonen were all in their late 40s, O & Connor flew at 37). When the Trials teams selected by the commission were introduced, Team Birr was not on the list. However, the team successfully campaigned for the United States Curling Association, demonstrating that they had the burden of proof for the qualification and ultimately gained their appeal. (Birr and Benton explained this saga in a podcast episode.) In the fifth row, Team Birr finished third.

All this leads us to the question of how good Team Allen can be. These are unknown waters for the sport, but it is a discussion that we all once had at the Curling Bar. Most hair curlers I've talked to are very skeptical of their goals, but I would not figure out their ability to be competitive at least. Not only are they at the height of a physically demanding sport, they also have a lot of time and resources that most other teams would like. This is not a substitute for curling experience and learning the critical nuances of the strategy – ice conditions, when and how to sweep, reading an opponent's releases and rock charts – but it would not be surprising if they become the top 10 in two years Curling teams would belong in the country, just because of everything that is available to them.

For Curlers, Team Allen is not just about Team Allen. In the world of curling sports the number of clubs is booming, participation is at a historic high and I could not be happier. However, there is a competitive gap between recreational players and elite curlers. (Benton specifically mentioned the age group of 24 to 36 years.) Part of this was the High Performance program, which consisted mainly of All-Star teams, but Benton sees a chance to fill the gap if Allen's group succeeds can be.

And why should it be limited to football players? Right now, Benton focused on training that team, but he says he's always looking for a way to track down more people. A typical example: A few days after talking to Benton, Minnesota United FC shared a video featuring striker Mason Toye.

Even though Team Allen does not reach his goal, it sounds like they're having fun hunting it. (We tried to get an interview with Allen through his flickering, but did not get an answer.) "They like the unique cultural aspect of curling because they did not get it in the NFL," Benton said. It's no surprise, as the fans' interaction is strongly separated or carefully managed in the four major sports. Not so here.

There probably will not be another athlete with two sports like Bo Jackson in our culture soon, considering how much each sport demands of its players. While climbing Team Allen on the world rankings will be a fun exercise, the real potential will be whether more professionals in the best ways of their lives decide to play curling. At least they have the advantage that it is more difficult than it looks.


Matt Sussman is a kind of competitive hair curler from Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter at @ suss2hyphens .


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