Another NFL Player Seeks to Conquer the Island

 Kona the Ironman Super Bowl

October 11, 2014 is the day many athletes have trained for and dreamed of for a long time.  The IRONMAN itself was the dream of John Collins.  “In 1978, U.S. Naval Commander John Collins and his wife Judy issued a challenge. They proposed combining Oahu’s 2.4 mile swim race, 112 mile bike race, and 26.2 mile marathon. On February 18, 1978 fifteen competitors, including Collins, traveled to Waikiki to take on the first-ever IRONMAN challenge.”

Don Davey, former NFL player with the Packers and Jaguars, has had visions of himself competing in the Ironman World Championship for about ten years.  “Competitiveness, tenacity, discipline and focus,” are some of the skills Davey used to make it in the NFL. Those same skills – and maybe even more – are needed to make it to the Super Bowl of IRONMAN competitions.

Former NFL player Don Davey preparing for Ironman 2012


After he retired from the NFL, Davey began his triathlon career with shorter-distance races and then, in 2005, he increased his mileage and competed in his first IRONMAN in Wisconsin (most appropriate for a Badger). Since then, he has completed numerous IRONMAN competitions including the Frankfurter Sparkasse IRONMAN in 2012 where he missed qualifying for Kona by just 12 minutes. Of Kona, Davey said, “he wouldn’t stop until he got there.”

2014 is the year his dream comes true. Davey received one the few coveted charity slots to compete in Kona because of his performance, dedication and community involvement.

Davey is an owner of several Firehouse Subs restaurants and an active supporter of the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation (FHSPSF).  The Foundation is dedicated to helping equip, educate and fundraise for public safety entities and has supported many first responders who are forced to work with outdated equipment and limited resources.

Don Davey Firehouse Subs story by Melissa Mahler

FHSPSF and The IRONMAN Foundation (IMF) teamed up to provide $100,000 in grant funding for first responder groups in seven communities where IRONMAN races will take place.  The grants, awarded for the purchase of critical, life-saving equipment, are being distributed at IRONMAN events. In Colorado, the Boulder police department was the recipient of a $25,000 grant that was used to purchase 15 custom mountain bikes for police patrols.


Biking is just one part of Davey’s training which he stepped up in intensity in February.  His regime is filled with “4am wake-up calls, dark swims and long bike rides.”  His focus now is on endurance and while overall strength is essential, Davey will skip weight training until after the race.

”Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles- BRAG FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”

- John Collins, IRONMAN Founder

Hines Ward, former Pittsburgh Steeler, blazed the Kona trail for NFL players last year. He retired after 14 seasons in the NFL and as part of last years “got chocolate milk” campaign was sponsored for the race.  This year’s chocolate milk sponsored competitor is 8 time Olympic Medalist Speed Skater Apolo Uhno. Ward, a friend of Ohno’s, said the IRONMAN is the hardest thing he’s ever done.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Ward said, “Last year in Kona, I was just getting off the bike and the winner was just finishing. The crowd was going crazy. It was so demoralizing. You’re just starting on the run and you see all these people finishing up. I was like, ‘Oh, geez, I still have to run a marathon.’”

While Ward has no NFL tattoos, he got a tattoo of the IRONMAN logo the day after the event. That’s a symbol of the impact the IRONMAN had on Ward and every competitor in the race.

Don Davey

Davey has set a few goals for himself at the World Championship next month.

1. To finish.  This is always his first goal when doing a grueling IRONMAN.

2. To be the biggest NFL player to complete the race

3. To be the fastest NFL player to complete the race

4. To hear the words at the finish “Don Davey you are an Ironman”

We’ll keep you posted on Davey’s training, journey to the finish line and his tattoo plans.

For more follow @Melissa_PPI and @Davey919992


More About Don Davey

Wisconsin Badgers 1986-1990
Green Bay Packers 1991-1995
Jacksonville Jaguars 1995-1999

Defensive lineman

9 year NFL veteran
Defensive lineman
1991 NFL Draft / Third Round pick of Green Bay Packers
Hometown: Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Don Davey was the first and is still the only 4 time First Team Academic All-America in NCAA History. After completing his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Don went on to play for nine seasons in the NFL.

Since retiring from the NFL, Don has launched Disciplined Equity Management, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm with over $150MM in assets under management; DKSS Subs, Firehouse Subs’ largest franchise operation with multiple locations in Central Florida and Wisconsin; and Parrothead Properties, a real estate investment company with properties in Florida and Wisconsin.

Don serves on the advisory board for the NFL’s Player Engagement Program, a program created to help athletes make a successful transition out of the NFL.

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