Alas, third boot this season is Mr. Jimmy Johnson, who was caught up in a war of big egos and alpha males. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!) Read on as Jimmy explains why he couldn't play dirty, how blindsided he was by Marty's dealings, and just how awful it was out there...
Why did you admit that you were the weakest player at Tribal?
Well, I was just being honest, I wasnít the weakest player, I was one of the weakest. Reason being, Iím sixty-seven years old, and the wear of the game - no sleep, no food, no clean water - probably had more of an effect on someone my age than probably someone younger. I thought really, the weakest player was Daniel. But I was just being upfront with everybody and being honest. At my age, Iíve got to be considered one of the weaker players, but I didnít think I was the weakest.
Since Jimmy T seemed to be all about himself, how would you have dealt with him if he was a wide receiver?
Jimmy T would have had a difficult time being on my team. [laughs] I actually helped Jimmy T stay on the tribe the first week, a lot of the people wanted to vote him off. I thought he could help us in some of the physical challenges. As it turned out, we really didnít have any physical challenges while I was there, so it never came into play.
How hard was it to leave your team with players like Marty and Jimmy T?
I really got thrown into that role, I told them upfront that I didnít want to be the leader. I didnít want to be the boss. I just wanted to enjoy the adventure. Thatís the reason I was there, and I tried to convince them of that - listen, Iím not going to win a million bucks so Iím not a threat, just let me enjoy this adventure, and then they got to arguing about building a shelter and making some decisions and came to me and said ďYouíve got to help us make some of these decisions!Ē So I reluctantly went into that role, but in years past, someone in that role is usually voted out. So I didnít want that role.
Now that youíve had the chance to watch the three episodes, how does that compare with your experience out there?
It really canít get the impact of how difficult it is. Thereís really not a lot of footage of the pouring down rain, youíre laying on bare bamboo, shivering at night. You donít have any food in your stomach or you donít have any water, youíre dehydrated and youíre tired! So watching it on television, itís such beautiful photography - you donít realize how difficult it is out there.
Did you have any idea that Marty had it out for you?
No! When I watched the episode last night, it was a complete surprise to me. I mean, I was shocked. Marty and I, I thought we had a really good relationship and I thought I had convinced him that I really wasnít a threat. I told him, Iím not a threat, nooneís going to give me a million bucks, so you donít have to worry about me. I said sincerely and was sincere about it, I would love for one of you to win a million bucks. I didnít tell the rest of the tribe but I told all the producers, that was my ultimate goal was just to have the adventure. But if I ever got to the point of getting into the final three, I was going to give the money to charity anyway. Evidently I didnít do a very good job of convincing Marty that I wasnít a threat. It was a surprise to me when I saw that.
What do you think of Jimmy Tís claim that you were ďthreatened by his natural leadership skillsĒ?
Uh, I was amused. [laughing] I think most everybody on the tribe was amused. There were a lot of them that wanted to vote Jimmy T out on the very first Tribal Council, and I convinced them not to do it.
You mentioned earlier that you thought Daniel was a weak player. Why not point that out at Tribal and maybe save yourself?
Well I didnít think I needed to, I thought everybody pretty much knew that. He pulled himself out of the first challenge. He sat that one out, he volunteered to sit out. There was always concern about his knee on any kind of challenge with any kind of running or moving around. Around camp...he really didnít do a lot around camp. And Iím not trying to trash Daniel, Iím just trying to be upfront about who was contributing on our tribe. Again, it had been discussed with some of the other tribe members, but I didnít realize Daniel had an alliance with Marty and Jill, that was a surprise. The first time I realized that was when I watched the episode last night. He was in an alliance already.
Youíve watched this show for a long time, yet you tried to go in and play with a great deal of integrity. Do you think you can do that and still go far in the game?
Evidently not! [laughs] I really had thought, once it got to a point, I could form some alliances. But I kind of wanted to get into the game a little ways to see who I could trust and who I could bond with and who we could really go the distance with. Had I known that Marty was scheming to get me out, I would have probably formed an alliance with Yve and Holly and Jane and possibly Tyrone. Had I known that was happening, we would have voted Daniel out at that time. But again, I didnít realize what was happening. I didnít realize that they were scheming to get me out, I thought I was safe because I wasnít a threat.
So it never occurred to you to just go in and try to play dirty?
No, thatís just not my personality. I would have a difficult time lying, and theyíd probably know that I was lying if I tried to lie! So I said that I was going to play the game with integrity and be upfront and honest. And not go into it trying to win a million dollars - try to go into it for the adventure and see how long I could last.
Looking back, would you do anything different?
Yeah, looking back on it I would have formed an alliance and voted Daniel out. Or Jimmy T, because a lot of people wanted Jimmy T out the first week. I convinced the rest of the tribe members to not vote Jimmy T out because if we have a physical challenge, he could help us with the physical challenge. As it turned out, we didnít have any physical challenges early. There were a couple of candidates, even though Jimmy T wasnít one of the weaker members, I could have gotten him out. Or I could have gotten Daniel out, had I known that Marty was scheming to get me out.
Did you feel like you really had no shot of winning?
I really didnít believe that any jury would award me a million dollars. I know if I was on a jury, I wouldnít award myself a million dollars. I would give it to Kelly B or someone that needed it.
It almost seemed as if you were giving them permission to vote you out at Tribal. Am I interpreting that incorrectly?
Well no, they asked ďWho were the weak players?Ē And see, what Iíve said from day one, is keep our team strong. Letís keep them strong for the challenges. I assumed everybody would be upfront, and the weak players were Daniel and myself - I was just being honest, Iím sixty-seven years old. If I would have said ďHey, Iím one of the stronger members of this tribe,Ē they would have looked at me and said youíre crazy. I was being upfront with them but I didnít think I was the weakest player by any means.
Do you wish you were still there?
Like I said, had I known they considered me a threat, I would have formed an alliance and protected myself.
Are you enjoying watching this season?
Oh yeah, Iíve always loved the show, and I love it even more, knowing the dynamics of the game. And knowing how difficult it really is out there!
Would you do it again?
No, I donít want to do it again. Itís not a knock on the show, because I love the show, but I just donít think physically Iím up for it. I started the game at 200 lbs., and I got down to a little over 180. That tells you how much weight I lost in that short period of time. And I think it really played on me, as far as just draining of the energy. Now Iím back up to about 193 lbs., so Iíve gained a lot of it back. Next time I need to lose weight, I donít think Iím going on Survivor! [laughs]
What it is about Survivor that you love so much?
I love the outdoors. I live on the beach down in the Florida Keys, so I love that atmosphere. I like to fish, I like to scuba dive, back when I was in Texas I did some hunting. I love just being out in nature. And thatís a big, big, part of the show, having people out there against the elements. Now, having done the show, I donít think Iím going to be pitching a tent out here on the beach anytime soon! But I do love watching it on television.
What was the biggest wake-up call for you?
I think the biggest wake-up call was the first night. The first night was probably the most difficult of all of them, because...I didnít expect it to be cold there! And it was really cold at night, I was soaking wet, and it was a downpour of rain all night long. Iím laying on hard bamboo just shivering. I didnít have any idea of what time it was, I was saying boy, I hope the sun comes up soon. That first night was just so difficult. And the second night was just a little better.
Do you think you would have fared better if the tribes were mixed up and not separated by age?
I really donít know. I donít know if the younger group would have considered me a threat or not, because that was my downfall. I knew with my celebrity status that I was going to have to do something to offset that. I thought by convincing them that I was not a threat, because nooneís going to award me a million dollars...I thought that that would work, but evidently I didnít do a very good job of convincing Marty. [laughs]
As such a huge fan, were there any past contestants that you tried to model your game after?
No, not really. Because I couldnít pattern my game after anyone that had been before because there hadnít really been any celebrities on the game before. Gary Hogeboom was there, who not many people know as a back-up quarterback. I think he might have been under the radar, in that he never said what he did. So I couldnít really pattern my game after anybody because there hasnít been a celebrity on there before.
In your nine days out there, do you feel like you got the adventure you were looking for?
Yes. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the adventure. I canít say I enjoyed all the aspects of it, but Iím glad I did it, and it was an experience. It was an adventure, so I accomplished that.
Thanks to Mariner for sitting in on the interview!