When the producers of the Biggest Loser added a former professional football player to the Season 12 cast, they must have been shaking in their shoes. On the one hand, players with an athletic past know how to manage the intense workouts the show has become known for, and that’s a good thing. On the other hand, Season 11’s high profile former world-class athlete, Rulon Gardner, didn’t exactly play nice; he worked hard on the show for a while, but then walked off before he was eliminated and didn’t even make an appearance at the finale. So. rude. So, picking up Antone Davis had to feel like a risk. Was he serious about buying in to the show’s mission, or was he just looking to boomerang himself into some sweaty publicity?
One thing is now certain, though: Antone Davis is no Rulon Gardner. For every smug, self-involved smirk Rulon gave the camera in Season 11, Antone gives the Season 12 audience a dozen heartfelt smiles, tears, and exhausted grunts in the gym. For the first few weeks, those tears Bob beat out of him were pretty intense, in fact.
Antone just couldn’t seem to deal with how much he couldn’t do — how far he had fallen from his football fitness. Some of his breakdowns were tough to watch, especially when you saw how hard he tried to keep it together during his video chat with his family. But now that Antone has hit his stride, he is punching the clock in the Biggest Loser gym like a true professional, and the only salty water on his cheeks is coming out of his pores. Week to week, you can see a little fire inside the big man growing stronger and stronger, and I go back every week hoping to see how he’s breaking through.
Antone Eugene Davis is a Georgia boy, born February 28, 1967 in Fort Valley. South Georgia’s high school football development machine worked his magic on him, but he had to work his own way to the big show. After high school, he went to the Tennessee Military Institute (TMI) instead of a big football school. But, after just one year at TMI, he earned a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee and started as their left guard in the 1988 season.
The Vols moved Davis to offensive tackle in his Junior year, and it is at that position that he became an All-American in his Senior year. In 1991, he was the 8th overall pick in the NFL draft and started his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. Antone played in the NFL for 7 years, 5 of those years and most of his 87 starts for Philadelphia.
Lightweights don’t play offensive tackle in the NFL, so Antone’s weight issues aren’t easy to trace. When was his weight where he wanted it, and when was it weighing him down emotional? The photos just can’t tell that story the way they do for most other Biggest Loser contestants. He claims, though, that weight has been a struggle for him since he was 15 years old, and that after his football career was over he started losing that struggle. He began his first year in the NFL at 338 lbs., and his starting weight on the Biggest Loser was 447 lbs. He says he was over 470 lbs when he applied to be a contestant on the show.
In interviews, Antone says that NFL workouts don’t compare to Biggest Loser workouts. He told his wife that he would just think of the workouts like two-a-days. But, that’s not at all what he found when he arrived. Instead of a couple of hours in the gym twice a day, Antone learned that he would be working out all day, every day. Nothing he had ever done for football really prepared him for that grind.
Take a look at Antone’s official Biggest Loser bio video (below) to see where he started on the show; but, don’t think you’re watching the “real” Antone Davis. He’s down in there somewhere, but you’ll have to tune in on Tuesday nights to watch that man working his way out into the world.