New Fox TV Series “American Grit” Features NFL/CFL/Euro Veteran Tony Simmons

Former NFL and CFL football receiver Tony TD Simmons, who has both played and coached for the past few years in Europe, will be watched by millions of TV viewers in North America starting April 14.

Fox TV is launching a brand new reality series called American Grit. Hosted by professional wrestler and movie star John Cena, American Grit brings together 16 competitors who endure eight grueling weeks of physical drills, testing their “grit”.

Simmons, who played for the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants, as well as the BC Lions in Canada, is now coaching in Poland with the Warsaw Sharks. But he spent eight weeks of the offseason involved in one of the most punishing physical contests he has ever experienced.

“The people I am up against in this show are incredible. I pride myself in always staying in top notch shape, but this competition was unlike anything I had ever done before.”

Basically, the premise of the show is that four teams of four contestants each are put through drills and tests by a former military “mentor”. The backgrounds of the 16 are highly diverse. In addition to Simmons, the group includes 22-year-old professional wrestler, Cameron Zagami, and 54-year-old police officer Jim Vaglica. Former sprinter David Neville, who currently works as a track and field coach and won gold and bronze medals at the Beijing Olympics also competes along with a “no excuses mom”, a commercial fisherman, and many more.

AFI - American Grit

The 16 men and women will be tackling military-grade and survival-themed challenges with a chance of winning up to a million dollars.

Each “team” will be drilled by “the cadre,” comprised of Navy Seal Cmdr. Rorke Denver, Army Sgt. (and Dancing with the Stars alum) Noah Galloway, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tawanda “Tee” Hanible, and Army Ranger Nick “The Reaper” Irving.

Almost didn’t get a chance

The “American Grit” journey for Simmons began last fall. A friend of his had received a notice that the show’s producers were looking for participants for a new TV show. Thinking it was some sort of SPAM she almost deleted it, but at the last second, she forwarded it to Tony.

After several interviews, he was told he made the final 16.

“This was a life-changing experience for me. It tested me in every way possible. I am definitely glad that I was given this opportunity.”

Obviously, his professional football background helped him and was appealing to the show’s producers. But the fact that he is a “fitness freak” and runs his own personal training company also played into it.

As to who wins the big prize, Simmons is keeping quiet.

“All I can tell you is that it tested me like I have never been tested before. As they said, ‘Intensity is not given. It is expected’.”

AFI will be following Tony’s progress and will be providing updates.

Check out this promotional video.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.