Four former NFL players, including five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, have taken up a new goal now that their football days are over -- making the Olympics in curling.
Allen, former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, ex-linebacker Keith Bulluck and ex-offensive lineman Michael Roos have dubbed themselves the "All-Pro Curling Team" as they chase seemingly long odds to qualify for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
The whole thing began as a challenge to Allen.
"My friend told me I couldn't become an Olympian," Allen told the St. Paul 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."
The four former football players curled for the first time in March and have hired 2010 curling Olympian John Benton as a coach.
Now Allen and Bulger are getting a shot at top competition. Along with Benton and fellow Olympic hopeful Hunter Clawson, they will face the gold-medal-winning Team Schuster at a curling event Friday.
"We're kind of getting thrown to the wolves here going up against the gold medalists," Allen told the newspaper. "I'm not coming in unarmed, though. We stacked our team with an Olympian as well.
"We have nothing to lose. 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."
Allen said the biggest challenge initially was learning the technique to slide correctly on the ice, noting that they all "fell a bunch" at first.
The plan is to start competing in more events with an eye toward the Olympic trials, which were held about two months before the Games for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
Allen said they are taking the challenge seriously.
"We know we set some pretty lofty goals. It's like that old saying: If we shoot for the moon and we miss, we'll still land among the stars," Allen told the Pioneer Press. "You'll see all four of us together on the ice way more next year."