CHICAGO – There are not too many team owners in professional sports that tower over their athletes, but when it comes to Jared Allen and his professional bull riding team, there simply isn’t a bull rider as big and fierce as the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Chicago Bears defensive end.
Normally, Allen can be found on the Soldier Field grass staring down opposing linemen and instilling fear in quarterbacks lining up under center. However, this week Allen has been on a media tour throughout Chicago promoting his riders and bulls for Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team prior to the Chicago Invitational.
Allen met his team officially Wednesday after reaching out to Kasey Hayes, Tanner Byrne and Jordan Hupp in December and offering an opportunity to join his team.
“We love these guys because they are professional,” Allen said. “The reason I chose these three is because I think they represent what I want to represent as a brand. They are quality individuals, first off, and secondly, they are open to the idea of coaching.”
After getting involved in the stock contracting side of the business full time in 2014 with his slew of Built Ford Tough Series Bulls, such as 2014 World Champion Bull contender Air Time, Allen noticed that the riders were in need of further resources to compete at their highest level.
Therefore, Allen has already provided his team with access to workout regimens. He has also offered further assistance in areas of rehabilitation, game planning, coaching, motivation – he frequently texts his riders with words of encouragement – and is willing to provide anything else his riders say they may need to be successful.
“From the NFL standpoint, and just an athlete’s standpoint, there is the preparation it takes to be at your best all the time,” Allen said. “These guys, like NFL players, have a short span to earn as much money as possible and the sport has been taken to a certain level, but to get it to the next level to where this sport can grow you have to start looking at ways of how do you better yourself.
“I don’t think I am trying to change the sport by any means,” Allen then added. “I am just trying to help it grow and find ways of enticing more people to get involved because it is such a good thing.”
Allen is offering financial incentives for his riders throughout the season, as well as a monthly salary as their exclusive sponsor. Jared Allen’s Pro Bull team will also offer opportunities for additional sponsors to get involved with the team.
All three riders called the phone call shocking and exciting.
“I was flying through Chicago, coming back from Vegas, and I landed in Chicago and I listened to my voicemails and he goes, ‘Hey this is Jared Allen,’” Hayes recalled. “I go, ‘Oh, damn that is that football player. This could be a good deal.’”
Hupp was out riding on horseback when he missed Allen’s call and heard a similar message to Hayes. He eventually got a hold of Allen a few days later and came away impressed with Allen’s pitch and goals for his riders and the PBR.
“I truly think he enjoys everything to do with the bull riding,” Hupp said. “He really wants to be hands on, which is awesome. You have a guy like Jared Allen that you can rub elbows with. He is really fired up about it and it gets you fired up. I have been doing this for so long you kind of roll in and it is another day at the office. It is just really nice to be a part of something like that. It just feels good to have somebody that wants you to be on their team and pay you to do it.”
Byrne was at his dad’s house in Saskatchewan when his phone rang.
“It was an unknown number and usually I don’t answer when it is an unknown number and I picked up and he was like, ‘Hey this is Jared Allen,’ Byrne said.
According to Byrne, he had been holding out on signing with a sponsor in 2015 until he was approached with a unique opportunity that he felt he could get behind. Immediately, he knew that Allen was the partner he was looking for.
“I always say that I don’t want to do the same thing everyone is doing, I want to do something different” Byrne said. “It is helping us out and it is helping the sport. He has been in the NFL for however many years and has all of those different ways of going to the mainstream media and public, instead of the same kind of thing that we have had over and over.
“I am just super happy that he phoned me and wants me to be a part of it. That is an honor in itself to get that call and I was really happy to make the deal and be a part of this team with Kasey and Jordan and we are going to try and win a bunch of championships and see where it goes from there.”
Byrne added that Allen’s background in helping wounded veterans through his charity Jared Allen’s Home 4 Wounded Warriors was a big selling point. Byrne’s grandfather, Marvin, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II and Bryne had always been interested in finding a way to help military veterans.
It was actually Allen’s charity that led Allen to the PBR in 2012 when stock contractor Matt Scharping, who now leads the charge on the stock side of things for Jared Allen’s Pro Bull team, reached out to Allen about teaming up with his charity. Scharping eventually donated a futurity bull to Jared Allen’s Home 4 Wounded Warriors and waived all of the bull’s entry fees.
“It first started with my foundation,” Allen explained. “Matt Scharping gave us a yearling. I was like that is pretty cool. I want to get involved with the PBR and maybe we can do some more stuff to raise some money.”
The more he became involved with a few bulls named on behalf of Jared Allen’s Home 4 Wounded Warriors in 2013, and then last year with Jared Allen’s Pro Bull team, Allen began to learn more and more about the sport.
One of the biggest things he began to realize is that the bulls were getting stronger and stronger, while riders were lacking some resources or the knowledge of how to keep up.
Along with opportunities for additional sponsors, Allen has also given his riders incentives to potentially earn bonuses as individuals and as a team.
“See we are all pulling for each other too, because if all three do good together there is an incentive for that,” Hayes said last week in Baltimore just before Tanner walked by and yelled, “Teaaammmm!”
The next step that Allen is closing in on is locking down a former bull rider to serve as a coach for Jared Allen’s Pro Bull team.
“The whole thing behind it is to get a coach, and hopefully I will have that locked up this week, who these guys like and respect to get that outside view,” Allen said. “I know even the best years I had, I have always had a coach every week keeping you on the right track.
“There is always an element of cowboying up and just riding your bull, but there is also an element of preparation that is sometimes lost.”
Allen and his players have all hinted that a former World Champion is their leading candidate to potentially serve as the team’s first coach.
Last week, Jared Allen’s Pro Bull team competed for the first time with Kasey Hayes, Tanner Byrne and Jordan Hupp.
It was a strong debut with Hayes finishing second in the event following a 3-for-3 performance.
Allen also sees his professional bull riding team as a solid business opportunity for the present and the future once he decides to retire from the NFL. Allen is currently invested in two other business opportunities – Jared Allen’s Clean Media and Jared Allen’s Sasquatch Kitchen – along with his charity, according to his website.
Yet, Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team is much more than simply a business opportunity.
“This is something I plan on being a part of for a long time,” Allen said. “It is fun. It is a different element being on the owner’s side, but it is cool because it allows me to be involved with the livestock and do what I do at the same time. It is definitely something I can do while I am playing football, but when I am retired I can really take over and jump into this. Business is something I always have enjoyed. You have to have the right people in place to do the right things for you. This definitely will be a post retirement thing as well.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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