High 'Opes podcast: Jared Allen: From NFL great to Olympic hopeful

Vikings great Jared Allen talks about his goals of making the Olympics as a curling star.
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It's been four years since Jared Allen last rushed a quarterback during his illustrious NFL career, and seven years since he last played for the Minnesota Vikings. 

What's Allen doing now? He's on a mission to go from never participating in curling to qualifying for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. Far fetched? You might think so, but Allen was a guest on Bring Me The News' High 'Opes podcast and he truly believes his team has a chance to shock the world. 

As Allen found out, curling was the sport that allowed him a fast track to facing the best in the world, as evidenced by his first World Curling Tour event in 2019 at the Curl Mesabi Classic in Eveleth, Minnesota. There, Allen's All-Pro Curling team was immediately thrown into the fire against the the U.S. men's team, Team Shuster, that went on an epic run at the 2018 Olympics to upset Canada and go on to win the gold medal. 

"I'm joking that this is the only sport that I can literally sign up to be an elite-level curler, no experience, and the first match is against the gold medalists? In what world does that make sense in sports? That's not supposed to happen," Allen says on the High 'Opes podcast. 

Allen's team, which consists of former Titans offensive lineman Michael Roos, ex-Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, and Minnesota-based professionals Jason Smith and Tim Solin. Additionally, ex-Titans linebacker Keith Bullock serves a role that Allen likens to a team manager. 

How big is the gap between Allen's team and the best in the world, a la Team Shuster?

"It's not as big as you think," says Allen. "That gap, per se, on technique, isn't that great. The difference between John (Shuster) and myself, his misses may be a quarter of a rock or a couple inches where my miss may be a quarter or half a rock and maybe a foot too heavy."

The biggest challenge for Allen, who makes his home in Tennessee, is finding good ice to practice on. Because Nashville doesn't have dedicated ice for curling, he frequently travels to Minnesota, where there are 24 curling clubs associated with the U.S. Curling Association. 

With the 2018-19 season over for the All-Pro Curling team, Allen and his teammates plan to spend significant time improving their skills and technique this summer before getting back into World Curling Tour competition in September. 

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