Rulon Gardner hasn’t exactly been silent about his early departure from Biggest Loser Couples season 11, but he hasn’t actually explained it either, until now. After months of carefully worded explanations like “I had to do what was best for me and my family,” and “I was ready to get back to my life,” Rulon decided to use his Facebook page to give us the real scoop. Read on for a blow by blow account of those Facebook posts and what they explain about Rulon’s heretofore mysterious ways.
^As you can see, the first post started out as a business-as-usual thank you to his fans, a thinly veiled announcement that he is serious about returning to Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling, and an invitation to check out his website.
^The second post doesn’t really add much more, but it makes it even more explicit that Rulon’s current ambitions include training with the Olympic team and promoting himself through public appearances and his new “wake board.”
^Here, in the third post, Rulon starts to open up a bit, and we begin thinking that maybe this isn’t just more of the same content-free publicity pap. The big hint here is that he “couldn’t reach his goals” on The Biggest Loser. Given what Rulon has been hinting at for months, and what he confirms in the posts above, this translates to: I couldn’t pursue my career as an Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestler and sports celebrity by continuing on the Biggest Loser.
I’ve wondered for months whether Rulon’s departure from the show precisely at the moment that he reached his competition weight was a coincidence. I thought not, now I’m fairly sure. Rulon didn’t want to lose anymore weight because he needed every pound in the wrestling ring, and the Biggest Loser isn’t really set up to condition or to celebrate a Wrestler’s body. What would the rest of the season have been for him? A fight with the trainers to keep his pounds rather than shed them? Constant criticism about the extra calories he was taking in to stay bulked up? You can’t really blame a guy for not wanting to stick around for that.
^ Then, Boom! There it is. Not only did Rulon need to leave the show in order to shift his training regimen toward wrestling and away from weight loss, he needed to leave the show in order to get free of his contractual obligations to NBC. This suggests that he left when he left in order to start some contractual clock running. Surely he had obligations to NBC from the start, and apparently, he wanted to get free of them as soon as he had gotten what he wanted from the network.
And, this is where the ethical side of Rulon’s choices start seeming a bit skeevy. Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be writing about Rulon today, and most of you probably wouldn’t be reading this if he hadn’t appeared on the Biggest Loser; but Rulon doesn’t seem to think he owes the show anything–even respect. “I was not going to be a LOSER.” Did he really say that? Are you kidding me?
We will probably never know what was in his contract, but given today’s posts, I’m wondering if there was a several month non-compete clause in there. His departure from the show aired on April 26, but it was taped several months earlier than that. If we knew precisely when he severed those ties and then we did the math leading up to these Facebook announcements, I bet we would have a pretty good idea how long that non-compete clause lasted. He is launching a lot of new projects, and NBC is clearly not getting a piece of any of them. I don’t believe that’s coincidence.
^Rulon doesn’t stop there, though. He goes on to speak to the famous chip-eating episode, which is sure to make his fans happy. But, what also comes through is his bitterness. The show didn’t portray him accurately. Reality TV isn’t reality. These are his beefs. But he already told us (above) that he only watched 20 minutes of the whole season. This is just non-sensical, ill-tempered, petulance. Either you watched the show and didn’t like how you were portrayed, or you are above watching the show and don’t care how you were portrayed. One or the other. Not both.
^Then, he goes on about the chips. I knew the chips were an issue for fans of the show, but why are they such an issue for Rulon? I’m not saying Rulon’s being dishonest, but he is at least not being clear. This second comment about the chips doesn’t really line up with the first one does it? No matter. The point is that he had calories to burn and he chose to burn them on “legal” chips that the show portrayed as “illegal.” What the show really portrayed, as far as I could see, though, was that Rulon was making his own decisions independently of what anyone else wanted or needed from him. So far, Rulon hasn’t said anything that suggests that that was inaccurate.
^This response to a fan came a few minutes after Rulon’s series of status updates, but it serves as an apt grace note to his Facebook gush. We believe Rulon when he says, “My wings will never be clipped.” There’s no doubt that he is a strong-willed, focused, ambitious man who has achieved great things and may have more great accomplishments ahead of him. What’s sad, though, is that he seems also to be a man who doesn’t realize that other people and entities (including NBC and The Biggest Loser) have contributed significantly to whatever soaring heights he may or may not be able to wing his way up to.
One of the wonderful things about The Biggest Loser is that fans become emotionally engaged in the journeys of its contestants. We might root for one over an other when it comes to winning the money, but most fans really root for all the players. We want them to do well. We’re proud to see them making real changes in their lives, accomplishing impressive things, and being happy.
Rulon, sadly, is different. He has committed fans, of course, but he doesn’t really let them in any more than he allowed any of the other contestants on the show to connect with him on an emotional level. Rulon is closed off, and he seems to think that he has to be to succeed. If that’s what it takes to be a Gold Medalist (and I sincerely doubt it is), then I wouldn’t wish that distinction on my worst enemy.
I wish you well, Rulon. But, to be honest, right now I am more emotionally connected to the people in your life that I don’t even know. I wish them the strength to stand by you even if you don’t know how to let them in. And, eventually, I hope you find the courage not to push everyone and everything away. NBC certainly lost something when you played them, but if you can’t acknowledge what they did for you, then you are by far the biggest loser in that deal.