September 30, 2010 02:43 PM by Ryan Haidet
Former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson went into Survivor: Nicaragua as the highest-profile castaway ever.Â Although exciting for many football fans to see the champ battling on the island, his tribemates at Espada were far from thrilled to see him there.Â After just eight days in the game, coach Jimmy Johnson was the third person voted out of the competition.Â I bet CBS producers were bummed about that since most of the pre-game publicity swirled around the famous coach.Â In a conference call with reporters, Jimmy Johnson discussed how difficult the game truly is while explaining what shocked him the most when watching the show back at home.
Question: At Tribal Council, why did you admit that you are the weakest player?
Jimmy Johnson: I was just being honest.Â I didn’t say I was the weakest, I was one of the weak players.Â Reason being, I’m 67 years old.Â The wear of the game, no sleep, no food and no clean water, probably had more of an affect on somebody my age than probably someone younger.Â I thought, really, the weakest player was Daniel.Â But I was just being up front with everybody and being honest.Â At my age, I’ve got to be considered one of the weaker players, but I didn’t think I was the weakest.
Question: You mentioned that you thought Daniel was a weak player.Â Did you ever think about pointing that out at Tribal Council in an effort to save yourself?
Jimmy Johnson: I didn’t think I needed to because I think everybody pretty well knew that.Â He pulled himself out of the first challenge.Â He volunteered to sit out.Â There was always concern about his knee on any kind of challenge where there was any kind of running or moving around.Â And around camp, he really didn’t do a lot around camp.Â I’m not trying to trash Daniel, I’m just trying to be up front about who was contributing on our tribe.Â Again, it had been discussed with some of the other tribe members, but I didn’t realize that Daniel had an alliance with Marty and Jill.Â That was a surprise, and the first time I realized that is when I watched the episode last night.
Question: Were you aware that Marty was targeting you?
Jimmy Johnson: When I watched the episode last night, it was a complete surprise to me.Â I was shocked because Marty and I — I thought — really had a good relationship and I thought I had convinced him that I really wasn’t a threat.Â I told him, “Listen, I’m not a threat.Â Nobody’s going to give me a million bucks.Â You don’t have to worry about me.”Â I said sincerely, “I’d love for one of you to win a million bucks.” …Â If I ever got to the point of getting in the final three, I was going to give the money to charity anyway.Â Evidently I didn’t do a very good job at convincing Marty that I wasn’t a threat.Â So it was a surprise to me when I saw that.
Question: You’ve seen the show for a long time.Â You’ve been a student of this game, and yet you tried to play it with a great deal of integrity.Â Do you think you can still do that and go far in the game?
Jimmy Johnson: Evidently not.Â (Laughs)Â I really thought once it came to the point, I could form some alliances.Â But I wanted to kind of get into the game a little ways to see who I could trust, and who I could bond with and who I could really go the distance with.Â Had I known that Marty was scheming to get me out, I would have probably formed an alliance with Yve, Holly, Jane and possibly Tyrone.Â That way we would have voted Daniel out at that time.Â Again, I didn’t realize what was happening.Â I didn’t realize they were scheming to get me out.Â I thought I was safe because I wasn’t a threat.
Question: How difficult was it to lead a tribe with guys like Marty and Jimmy T. as compared to coaching football players?
Jimmy Johnson: I really got thrown into that role.Â I told them up front I didn’t want to be the leader.Â I didn’t want to be the boss.Â I just wanted to enjoy the adventure.Â That’s the reason I was there, and I tried to convince them, “Listen, I’m not going to win the million bucks so I’m not a threat.Â Just let me enjoy this adventure.”Â Then they got to arguing about building the shelter and making decisions, so they came to me and said, “You’ve got to help us make some of these decisions and strategy for the challenges and around camp.”Â I reluctantly went into that role.Â In years past, someone in that role usually gets voted out.Â So I didn’t want that role.
Question: Now that you’ve had the chance to watch three episodes, how does watching the show compare with your actual experience?
Jimmy Johnson:Â You really can’t get the full impact of how difficult it is, because there’s really not a lot of footage of the pouring-down rain.Â You’re laying on bare bamboo shivering at night.Â You don’t have any food in your stomach.Â You don’t have any water.Â You’re dehydrated.Â And you’re tired.Â Watching it on television, with such beautiful photography, you don’t realize how difficult it is out there.
Question: How much weight did you lose?
Jimmy Johnson: I started the game at 200 pounds and I got down to a little over 180 at the end.Â So that shows you how much weight I lost in that short time.Â I think it really played on me as far as just draining of the energy.Â I’m back up to about 193 pounds, so I’ve gained a lot of it back.Â But the next time I need to lose weight I don’t think I’m going on Survivor.
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Images courtesy of CBS.