NFL in Bloom’s post-Olympic plans{mosimage}COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) The Olympics are four months away and, luckily for Jeremy Bloom, the NFL scouting combine starts a week after his stint at the Winter Games are over. Bloom plans on being at both.

The American freestyle skiing star, who was forced out of college football and is now seeking a spot on the U.S. Olympic ski team, has been busy interviewing agents to guide him through his pro football career, the future of which will start playing out next February at the combine.

“I can fly back and run the 40,” Bloom said Tuesday of his post-Olympic plans. “I’ll decide on an agent next week and we’ll get the process rolling.”

Before that, though, there is that little thing called the Olympics.

Bloom, a budding celebrity and magazine cover boy who won six straight events last year en route to the World Cup moguls championship, figures to be one of the top stars in Torino, regardless of nation or sport.

It’s a role he’s ready to handle.

“It’s not something that would ever take away from my training – a photo shoot or anything like that,” Bloom said. “I’m an athlete. That’s what I love to do. I try not to pay too much attention to the other aspects. But I have to pick and choose the best opportunities for myself and I’m going to do what’s going to make my sponsors happy.”

Ah, the sponsors.

Nobody understands their role better than Bloom, whose college football career was stamped out after two seasons by NCAA officials, who said their rules didn’t allow him to accept endorsement money for skiing while playing football.

It was a bitter setback for the receiver and punt returner, a star at Colorado who had every intention of playing football there in the fall and keeping the skiing going the rest of the year.

Now, he is forced to watch football from the sidelines. At 4-1, Bloom’s old team is off to a surprisingly strong start this season. Bloom watched last week’s win over Texas A&M from the Colorado sideline.

“This is the worst time of year, as far as missing a sport,” he said. “I was at homecoming last week. I wanted to put the pads on.”

There is, however, a Plan B – or Plan C – or whatever plan it is by now.

Bloom has devoted himself full-time to skiing. Assuming nothing strange happens between now and the Olympics, he’ll be a gold-medal favorite in Italy come February.

The men’s moguls event is a one-day affair. It takes place Feb. 15, giving him plenty of time to compete, celebrate, if necessary, and get back to the United States for the NFL scouting combine, which starts Feb. 22 in Indianapolis.

It is at that meat market where Bloom will run, possibly lift weights and be prodded and poked by NFL scouts. Coming right from the Olympics, he’ll probably be 15 to 20 pounds below his football weight. If scouts need a better idea of what he can do, they can watch his college highlights.

During his two seasons at Colorado, Bloom scored five touchdowns of 75 yards or longer, including a 94-yard reception his freshman year.

He is only 5-foot-9, probably too small to become a prototypical NFL wide receiver. But his speed – he ran the 100 in 9.4 seconds two years ago – will be hard to ignore.

NFL draft expert Gil Brandt said recently he expected Bloom to be drafted somewhere between the fourth and seventh rounds.

“He’s got a special talent,” Brandt said.

Regardless of where he goes in the draft, Bloom said he’s looking forward to getting back into football once the Olympics are over.

“I miss every single aspect of it,” he said.

Associated Press Sports Writer

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