Devon Allen, set to fly with Philadelphia Eagles, still sees track in his future

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No, Olympic 110m hurdler Devon Allen has not raced any of his new teammates since signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in April.

“Being a pro track and field athlete, I don’t race for free,” Allen said with a chuckle. “I was like, ‘All right, we’ll race but for $10,000 a race,’ and nobody took me up on that yet.”

And no, Allen has not had a chance to hurdle a defensive back.

“The funny thing is, I feel like people kind of know I’m the hurdler,” he said, “so they’re not going to go low on me.”

But the 27-year-old NFL rookie wide receiver proved to himself that he belongs on a football field.

“I know it’s been a while since I’ve played football, but I’ve played it my whole life,” Allen said in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia from his apartment in Annapolis, Maryland. “Hopefully it’s going to be like riding a bike.”

Allen, who will race reigning world champion Grant Holloway in the USATF NYC Grand Prix 110m hurdles on Sunday (4-6 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app and Peacock), is delicately balancing his passions for football and track.

He competed in both sports at the University of Oregon, leading the Ducks with seven touchdown receptions as a redshirt freshman in 2014. After finishing fifth at the 2016 Rio Games, he returned to collegiate football until he tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered meniscus damage in a non-contact injury defending a punt return in a game Sept. 17, 2016.

He turned pro in track in November 2016 and circled 2020 as the year he would return to football, but when the Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021, he had to wait another year.

“It took five years and now I’m here,” said Allen, who missed an Olympic medal by four hundredths of a second in Tokyo.

Allen caught the attention of the Eagles after clocking 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Oregon’s Pro Day in April, despite not having played a snap of football since 2016. Within 20 minutes, Allen was on the phone with Eagles general manager Howie Roseman.

“It’s good to go somewhere where you’re wanted,” Allen said, adding that “a few” other teams also expressed interest.

His return to football did have a false start.

On May 29, just hours before he was scheduled to depart for Eagles organized team activities (OTAs), he tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time. Symptoms were mild, but rather than running routes for Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, Allen had to settle for catching passes from his track coach, Jamie Cook.

“I haven’t been with an NFL caliber quarterback since I was in college,” Allen said.

Allen has had the chance to bond with his new teammates away from the football field.

When Allen broke the Penn Relays 110m hurdles record on April 30, several Eagles were in attendance. His pre-race dinner? A crawfish boil hosted by Hurts.

“[Hurts] told me that the second, third and fourth batches were going to be a lot more spicy than the first, and he wasn’t lying,” Allen said. “I was definitely feeling it the next few days.”

For the next two months, Allen is mostly focused on track. His goal is to finish in the top three at the USATF Outdoor Championships (June 23-26) to qualify for the world championships (July 15-24). Both meets are at his former college home in Eugene, Oregon.

Allen reportedly signed a three-year contract with the Eagles, but he will still need to earn a roster spot.

Once the Eagles open training camp on July 26, he plans on hanging up his track spikes until after the Super Bowl, assuming he makes the team. Then, if everything goes to plan, he would compete in track during the 2023 NFL offseason and return to football for training camp.

“The training is similar,” Allen said. “I train to be as explosive and strong as possible on the track, and that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing with football.”

The biggest challenges for Allen in transitioning to football have been learning the playbook and running routes that require a change of pace.

“I’ve been running track, so it’s not like I’ve been stopping a lot,” Allen said.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Allen compared his game to Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

Allen said he’d “like to think” he will be the fastest player in the NFL, although he admitted he lost a race to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill in high school.

“I could see myself very early on just being a major deep threat,” Allen said. “I mean, that’s one thing I’m good at. I can run. There’s no doubt in my mind.

“I’m a lot more physical than people are going to expect, and I’m excited to do that again. That’s something I missed.”

Allen has been impressed by his new teammates. This offseason, the Eagles acquired wide receivers A.J. Brown and Zach Pascal to go along with DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Greg Ward.

“I do think we definitely have the fastest receiver corps in the NFL and probably one of the best receiver rooms in the NFL as well,” he said.

Allen claims that he is in the best shape of his life, having run a 100m personal best in April and the year’s third-fastest 110m hurdles at the Penn Relays.

“My job is going to be the fast guy,” Allen said. “I’m one of the fastest men in the world, so I need to be able to show that on the field.”

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NFL star Jared Allen’s team beats Olympic champions at curling nationals

Jared Allen
Getty
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Retired NFL star Jared Allen was part of a curling team that beat 2018 Olympic champion John Shuster to open the U.S. Championships in Denver on Sunday night.

Allen, who retired from the NFL in 2016 and picked up curling in 2018, is on 2010 Olympian Jason Smith‘s team, which beat Shuster’s team 10-6 in the first game of round-robin play.

After all eight teams play each other, the top four advance to Friday’s playoffs. The winner of Saturday’s final is national champion and is expected to be the U.S. team for the world championship in Ottawa in April.

Allen, 40, said before nationals that he is eyeing the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I thought curling was going to be a lot easier than it was,” Allen, who was on a different team at the last nationals in 2021 that went 0-9, told the newspaper. “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.”

How big of an upset was Sunday’s result? Ken Pomeroy rated Smith’s team fifth in the eight-team field before the tournament, while he had Shuster’s team second behind Korey Dropkin.

Shuster’s team won the last three nationals that they entered, plus the last two Olympic Trials since the bulk of the team formed for the 2015 season. Shuster went 11-0 at his last nationals in 2020, then 11-2 at the 2022 Olympic Trials, where the younger Dropkin beat him twice but ultimately lost in the finals series.

Allen was first linked to serious curling in February 2018 via U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Lou Nanne on a Minnesota ESPN radio show. Nanne said Allen told him at a dinner.

“[Allen] says, ‘I’m giving myself four years to make the Olympic curling team,’” said Nanne, a 1968 U.S. Olympian.

Allen, along with retired quarterback Marc Bulger, first played on a team with 2010 Olympian John Benton and fellow veteran curler Hunter Clawson.

Allen’s new team includes Smith, who played on the 2010 Olympic team skipped by Shuster, Clawson and Dominik Maerki.

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U.S. Alpine skiers wear climate change-themed race suits at world championships

U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit
Images via Kappa
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Looking cool is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikaela Shiffrin, Travis Ganong and the rest of the U.S. ski team when they debut new race suits at the world championships.

Even more, they want everyone thinking about climate change.

The team’s predominantly blue-and-white suits depict an image of ice chunks floating in the ocean. It’s a concept based on a satellite photo of icebergs breaking due to high temperatures. The suit was designed in collaboration with Kappa, the team’s technical apparel sponsor, and the nonprofit organization Protect Our Winters (POW).

The Americans will wear the suits throughout the world championships in Courchevel and Meribel, France, which started Monday with a women’s Alpine combined race and end Feb. 19.

“Although a race suit is not solving climate change, it is a move to continue the conversation and show that U.S Ski & Snowboard and its athletes are committed to being a part of the future,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, the president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

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Global warming has become a cold, hard reality in ski racing, with mild temperatures and a lack of snow leading to the postponement of several World Cup events this winter.

“I’m just worried about a future where there’s no more snow. And without snow, there’s no more skiing,” said Ganong, who grew up skiing at Lake Tahoe in California. “So this is very near and dear to me.”

What alarms Ganong is seeing the stark year-to-year changes to some of the World Cup circuit’s most storied venues.

“I mean, it’s just kind of scary, looking at how on the limit (these events) are even to being possible anymore,” said Ganong, who’s been on the U.S. team since 2006. “Places like Kitzbuehel (Austria), there’s so much history and there’s so much money involved with that event that they do whatever they can to host the event.

“But that brings up a whole other question about sustainability as well: Is that what we should be doing? … What kind of message do we need show to the public, to the world, about how our sport is adapting to this new world we live in?”

The suits feature a POW patch on the neck and the organization’s snowflake logo on the leg.

“By coming together, we can educate and mobilize our snowsports community to push for the clean energy technologies and policies that will most swiftly reduce emissions and protect the places we live and the lifestyles we love,” according to a statement from executive director Mario Molina, whose organization includes athletes, business leaders and scientists who are trying to protect places from climate change.

Ganong said a group of ski racers are releasing a letter to the International Ski Federation (FIS), with the hope the governing body will take a stronger stance on sustainability and climate change.

“They should be at the forefront of trying to adapt to this new world, and try to make it better, too,” Ganong said.

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U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit