Jon Toth has battled 350-pound nose tackles as an NFL center, but his new career as a male model has him lining up against a new opponent: Fatphobia.
In the world of modeling (as well as acting), a model or actor in real life would look like a wide receiver not a 6-foot, 5-inch, 310-pound lineman.
Since he started modeling, he’s become somewhat of a body-size icon with a meme going around the web globally.
Toth, who was a four-year starter at the University of Kentucky before embarking on a pro career in 2017 that has included stints with the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, the now-defunct XFL’s D.C. Defenders and the Cleveland Browns earlier this year, spoke to Fox News about tackling a new gig.
“I have not fully transitioned to modeling,” the 6-foot, 5-inch, 310-pound Toth insists, just in case an NFL team comes knocking. “I still consider myself a full-time NFL football player who does modeling on the side when football permits.”
But in the meantime, Toth is a free agent who looks good even in shirts without a number and a name on the back. And he credits his fiancee, Adri Zgirdea, for opening up a new career to him two years ago after they first met at the annual Espy Awards.
“Adri is the love of my life and is not only the reason I am now a model but also the reason I have become the man, brother and athlete I am today,” Toth said.
Zgirdea also owns and operates AZSN Studio, which offers a suite of services but primarily focuses on styling big and tall professional athletes. She thought her beau had the looks to be a model, and helped set him up with IMG Worldwide.
“Adri sees models all day while she is looking for clothes for her clients,” Toth recalled. “While doing this one day, she said to me, “You are so much better looking than these models on here.’ And the rest is history.
“It’s because of her encouragement that I am a model,” Toth said.
Toth has squeezed in some e-commerce shoots and even one for Calvin Klein between pro-football jobs. He had a photoshoot lined up in Denmark in April, but it fell through because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, he and Zgirdea moved to Hoboken, N.J., across the Hudson River from New York City. Although he signed with the Browns in late August, he was a late training camp cut and returned to the New York area.
“New York is the place to be if you want to be in and around fashion,” he said. “My days currently consist of weight and agility training for football, as well as studying film and my old notes to keep my mind fresh for when I get a call from a team. My daily routine also consists of frequently eating large quantities of food in order to reach my goal weight of 315 pounds.”
Toth may be a plus-sized model, but he’s never been self-conscious about his size. After all, he works in a profession where 300-pound men are the norm.
“I would say I work in a rare environment in football where having a large body is actually celebrated for my position,” he said. “I train to compete on a football field, where I’m asked to move other human beings who are just as large as me if not larger.
Toth is not ready to give up his gridiron dream, but he knows that as long as there are big guys like him, there will be a market for XXXL clothing – and models who can rock it.
“I definitely am very excited to see where brands go in the future with big and tall clothing,” Toth said. “I feel like there has been a lot of progress to date but there is still so much room for improvement.
“I would love to be a part of the fashion weeks and walk on a runway,” Toth said. “We have seen it happen with curvy models like Ashley Graham – It’s time for the ‘Brawn’ (big and tall) men to get their shot on the runway.”