By ERNIE PALLADINO
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: April 6, 2004)
After the abuse he catches from his own teammates, a charging pass rusher might not seem so horrifying to Jesse Palmer.
The Giants' backup quarterback brought his GQ style and charm to the newest season of the ABC reality show "The Bachelor," which premieres tomorrow at 9 p.m. And the flak he expects in the ensuing weeks promises to be less enjoyable than the task of whittling a field of 25 women to one lucky girl he affectionately calls "The Missus.''
"I'll probably get tied to a goalpost sometime in the next two months,'' Palmer said.
Given the average football player's miniscule cuddle factor, one can imagine what awaits Palmer, especially as he hands out a red roses to each round's survivors.
"Oh, I can't wait,'' locker room neighbor and starting quarterback Kerry Collins said. "I'm going to want to watch that, but I'm also going to want to throw up. ... I can't wait to see the first time he gets in that hot tub, that whole rose ceremony, all those touchy-feeling things I'm so good at.''
For all of Collins' devilish anticipation, one could detect a hint of jealousy from those who have to fend for themselves in the social swirl. The thought of a TV producer placing that call to an agent asking, "Would your client like to date 25 gorgeous women at once?'' might generate Super Bowl-like excitement.
"Why didn't they ask me?'' said the team's ranking playboy, Jeremy Shockey.
Running back Tiki Barber, a fixture in the New York radio and television scene, actually participated in the opening episode. Even he, though, doesn't know which woman Palmer wound up with.
"My wife, Ginny, is huge into reality shows,'' Barber said. "So he comes over the house one night and she's asking, 'So, Jesse, you engaged?' And he wouldn't say.''
Though they speak several times each day, Palmer and his new love can't see each other until the final episode airs. He has no idea why the producers called his agent. Pehaps they saw him throwing passes to a woman on a recent ESPN reality show.
Or maybe he was just lucky.
"I think it was the fact that I was young, dumb, and Canadian,'' the 25-year-old Toronto native said.
Palmer reduced a list of 100 applicants to the taping's field of 25. Unbeknownst to the others, one was a good friend of his that served as a spy. While faking romance — she had to get one of the roses to stay in the game — Palmer's spy helped weed out those who coveted Jesse Palmer the quarterback from those who wanted Jesse Palmer the man.
"The biggest challenge was determining which women were there for the right reason,'' said Palmer, whose occupation was kept a secret until it leaked out shortly before filming began in February. "My spy helped me a lot with that, and I consider myself a good judge of character, too.
"I was trying to find someone honest, secure in herself, and genuine. And also someone who loves what I do.''
Palmer got plenty of advice. Brother Billy, in a relationship of his own, warned him about using the words "chemistry" or "connection." Wide receiver Amani Toomer, clearly in his no-cuddle offense, warned, "Don't you dare cry!''
So off he went, without second thought to his envious teammates. Though it left Palmer "as confused about women in general than before I got on,'' by the time filming ended March 7, he'd found what he hopes is his one and only.
"Dates after this will be such a disappointment,'' Palmer said. "Every date I went on was so overwhelming, things I'll never have a chance to do again.''