Ex-NFL DE Jared Allen is on a curling team that just upset the 2018 Olympic gold medalists

 Jared Allen spent 12 years in the NFL before his curling career. (Photo by MSA/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jared Allen spent 12 years in the NFL before his curling career. (Photo by MSA/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Former NFL defensive end Jared Allen's quest to make the United States Olympic curling team continued after his team, skippered by Jason Smith, upset the team led by 2018 Olympic gold medalist John Smith on Sunday at the U.S. Championships, 10-6.

Allen, 40, first picked up the sport in 2018 — months after he officially retired following 12 years in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers. Allen promised to win a medal in curling when he started playing and initially competed on a team that included other ex-NFLers such as St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, Tennessee Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck and Titans offensive tackle Michael Roos.

While Allen didn't make the team that eventually went to Beijing in 2022, he did beat the squad that did this year. And if Smith and Allen's team win this event, they'll go on to represent the United States at the World Championships in Ottawa this spring. That could put them one step closer to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina, Italy.

"I thought curling was going to be a lot easier than it was," Allen told the Star Tribune on Feb. 3. "But I'm one of those guys who, once I start something, I'm going to see it through. Our goal at nationals is to beat as many teams as we possibly can and see where we land."

This is Allen's third time competing at the U.S. Championships and his team is ranked 89th by the World Curling Federation. The obvious differences between curling and football made the transition from the field to the ice a little difficult, but Allen felt confident enough in the skills he learned in the NFL to pick up a new game.

"It's so different than what we're used to as football players. I think that's what's kept me so intrigued," Allen added. "Like the short game in golf, it's a game of finesse. You have to think two shots ahead. And you have to learn how to control your body, your emotions, your heart rate. That took some time to reset."

Allen made five Pro Bowls and had four first-team All-Pro selections during his career. He finished with 136 sacks, 648 combined tackles and 32 forced fumbles in 187 career games. He's a finalist for this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class. The winners will be announced Thursday.