Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen wasn't doing any calf-roping sack celebrations Thursday morning in Grand Forks.

Allen has traded in his football helmet for curling stones and a dream of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Allen, along with former NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Marc Bulger, were competing at the Grand Forks Curling Club in the Men's Nationals Challenge Round, hoping to secure a position in the 2020 National Championships in Spokane, Wash.

Allen, who played 12 seasons in the NFL, formed a curling team of retired football players in the spring of 2018. Originally, Allen teamed with Bulger, Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Michael Roos and Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck.

In Grand Forks, Allen and Bulger teamed with curling veterans Jason Smith of St. Paul and Tim Solin of Mahtomedi, Minn. Smith, who skipped the team, competed in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and Solin was at the 1998 Games in Nagano.

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Allen's group struggled out of the gates Thursday. Despite holding the hammer in the first end, the team gave up six points in an eventual 9-2 loss after seven ends. Allen's group was beat by skip Chase Sinnett's team, which featured lead Ethan Sampson of Edmore, N.D.

In total, 16 teams are in Grand Forks to compete for four spots at the national championships, which will be held at Eastern Washington Feb. 8-15.

"This one didn't go well," Allen said. "Horrible, horrible first end and had to climb out of a hole. We got smoked in this one, but we have another one at (4 p.m.). We know we can play with any of these guys and have beat some of these guys, but we just have to get it done."

The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Allen said his goal is "absolutely" to make the national event.

"We have a few more cracks at it," Allen said. "I hate losing. We beat ourselves. You don't make your shots and give up six in the first, that's a little tough."

Allen, 37, racked up 136 career sacks while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers. He played in the 2016 Super Bowl and retired that year.

Bulger threw for 22,814 yards in his 10-year NFL career, which was spent primarily with the St. Louis Rams. Bulger retired in 2011. The 42-year-old made the Pro Bowl in 2003 and 2006.

Allen said he was feeling comfortable coming into the Grand Forks event, so he was disappointed in the early result.

"We're curling our best right now, except for this crap," Allen said. "We just have to make shots and get through it. We'll make adjustments and get after the next one."