Content Bloom ready for next step: NFL

SAUZE D'OULX, Italy -- Football. That's where it's at now for Jeremy Bloom.

After finishing sixth Wednesday night in the men's moguls final, Bloom, who had been a favorite for gold, pulled off his ski jacket and replaced it with a T-shirt reading "Under Armor Football."

"I'm not disappointed," said Bloom, giving his statement credence with a wide smile. "There is a small disappointment in not accomplishing my goals. I wanted to accomplish a goal; I wanted to ski a flawless run, and I came very close."

In truth, the run had only one flaw, a small slip on the landing of the off-axis 720 he threw as the second trick in his run. But it was enough to put him out of striking distance for a medal in the last event of his professional skiing career.

According to Bloom, a medal at these Games would only have been wrapping on an already successful skiing résumé. He has been a world champion. He has won World Cups, including an unprecedented six in a row in 2004 and 2005, starting with one right here in Sauze d'Oulx.

"I look back on my career and I have to pinch myself," Bloom said. "I never thought in a million years that I'd be able to have the success that I've had in this sport. I feel so blessed to have that. It's been an incredible ride, and I don't think a medal today would have changed that."

Bloom even claims that his finish Wednesday is less disappointing than his ninth-place finish at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. "I was younger then," Bloom said. "I've had four years to mature."

And now, he has mere days to recover.

Bloom will leave Italy on Friday for California, where his new football agent, Gary Wichard, has a personal trainer waiting to whip the skier into shape (football shape, anyway) for the NFL combine that starts in Indianapolis on Feb. 22. Wide receivers arrive Feb. 23 and, over the next three days, undergo medical and psychological testing, begin their on-field tests (the three-cone drill, the 40-yard dash) and position-specific drills (catching footballs and running patterns). So, 11 days after skiing the Olympic moguls course, Bloom plans to run a 4.2-second 40.

"I'll be 15 pounds underweight, but my agent says GMs, coaches and scouts understand that," Bloom said. "This summer, I trained at UCLA. I caught the football, I ran the routes and I caught the punts, and a lot of it was instinctual. I don't think it will be that big of a deal."

And with the current success of small receivers like the Redskins' Santana Moss and the Panthers' Steve Smith, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Bloom, a standout receiver at the University of Colorado before having his eligibility revoked by the NCAA for accepting scholarships that supported his skiing career, is confident that he'll make the NFL.

Bidding farewell to skiing, despite not winning an Olympic medal, is a decision Bloom's mom Char is comfortable with.

"Jeremy has never made a decision that I didn't admire," she said as she watched her son field questions about the upcoming combine. "Of course, I'm disappointed [about the moguls final], but he'll go on to something else. I'm proud of him and I admire him. He sets the bar high, dreams big and then works like heck."

Characteristics that will serve him well in any sport.

Lindsay Berra is a writer for ESPN The Magazine.