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Former Jets lineman Damien Woody says 'Biggest Loser' was 'life-changing'

Former NFL lineman Damien Woody is a contestant

Former NFL lineman Damien Woody is a contestant on the "Glory Days" seasons of NBC's "The Biggest Loser" featuring former pro, college and amateur athletes. Credit: NBC

Damien Woody never had seen NBC's long-running show "The Biggest Loser" when his agent asked if he would like to be a contestant for the upcoming, athlete-themed season.

But his wife and some of his seven children are "huge fans of the show," which sealed the deal.

"I talked to my family and they began packing my bags and said, 'If you don't go out to California, you're silly,' " the former Patriots, Lions and Jets offensive lineman told Newsday last week. "So here I am in California."

Woody, 36, was limited in what he could say about the show -- spoilers! -- but taping for Thursday's season premiere began in late June, so it seems safe to say he is making progress in lowering his original, nearly 400-pound weight.

"The experience has been phenomenal," said Woody, who plans to return to work as an ESPN analyst when his time on the show is over. "It's the best experience I've had in my life. It's truly been life-changing. I feel great both physically and mentally."

Woody said his family's support for him to leave home in New Jersey for the project "made the decision real easy for me."

Part of the motivation was to be an example to other retired linemen who struggle with their weight. "I wanted to tell my story and the experience that I've had, not only in retirement but even throughout my playing career, the struggles with weight loss, weight fluctuation," he said. "If I touch one person, my job is done."

Woody said that during 12 NFL seasons -- the last with the 2010 Jets -- he "worried about being big and eating a ton of calories." Now, he said, "Being diligent in the kitchen with my nutrition, that's 80 percent of the battle.''

Woody is one of five former pro athletes in this year's cast, including NFL quarterback Scott Mitchell, tennis star Zina Garrison, WNBA player Vanessa Hayden and Olympic gold-medal softball player Lori Harrigan-Mack.

As much as Woody has enjoyed the experience, Thursday night will be the first time the public will share in it, flab and all.

"It is going to be weird," he said. "I'm a pretty private person. I'm putting myself out there on display, but it's for a bigger purpose. People will see my journey and hopefully see something from my journey . . . This is a tremendous opportunity for me as far as my growth as a person. I'm looking forward to everyone seeing it."

New York Sports