Tonight we feature an update on the biggest football story to come out of the Pacific Northwest in a long time. Late in 2013 we broke the story of Tony "Big Tone" Picard and his amazing work as a running back of some 400 lbs at White Swan High School. The story went viral and Tony was swept away in a media frenzy that included appearances on ESPN, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and countless others.
We will never forget seeing this mountain of a man spin and move his way into the end-zone on multiple plays dragging defenders as he went.
Our goal when we released his story was to let coaches and people see this kids size and his talent. And they did. Long after the media circus ended Tony persevered trying to move on to college and maybe even to have a shot at playing football. Tony is Native American so to his people he became a source of pride and many cheered for him as he took up position at the East West All Star Classic last summer and played his last downs of High School ball.
Many smaller colleges expressed interest in Tony but it was hard to find the right fit for a kid of his size and position. Picard would not be denied or swayed by the haters that piled onto Twitter and his You Tube Video to call him names and attempt to diminish him.
He looked at a number of opportunities and ended up deciding on Everett Community College; a place to start college classes and play some JC Football. That however was not to be and before it began he ended up heading out to Idaho to live with Family and enroll in the Nez Perce branch of Northwest Indian College.
Because they do not have football there he hooked up with Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston where he joined the Warriors; a JC Club team. Bottom line was that Tony was going to give College Football a shot one way or the other.
"I had only two days of practice with the team and ended up jumping in at Defensive Tackle and playing right away," said Tony. "I feel good about my season. We played some close games and won some and lost some as well. It was a good opportunity for me to see what college football was going to be like."
Tony played well and even though one could say this is "Small Ball" it is college football and he and many hungry kids battled it out working just as hard as any athletes to become good college players. He dropped weight and competed at 370 lbs last season. He thinks that 360 is in sight and that he is going to be ready for a shot at Division 2 or NAIA ball as schools have been tracking him this past year,
"I get a lot of messages from Coaches in my inbox. So who knows. One thing great is I am making the Honor Roll and doing well in my classes. Wherever I go I am thinking I am going to study Wildlife Management or Fish and Game and maybe follow that career path."
Big Tone is on his way and going to make it - if not in football he certainly will in life. Recently he was sent to Arkansas where he was a featured motivational speaker at a large conference of Native American youths; something he said he enjoyed a lot.
His art is a whole other story and let's just say he is becoming sought after for his work. His commitment to nature and the Native American culture comes out through all his work and it is just as special as the big man himself!
We celebrate all of our NW kids during and after High School and Big Tone is part of our family forever. He is no fluke gang. His size is legitimate and his ability good enough to make him a 2 or 3 gap threat on a college defensive line.
One last thing. Did he every rumble that rock into the end zone on his college team last season?
"No I did not. We had great talent at running back so I was happy to be starting on the line," said a smiling Picard who we know will take that chance anytime it comes.
Good luck to Tony and all of our NWPR Alumni this year and in the years to come.