Survivor's Jimmy Johnson on His Biggest Regret and Why He Liked Playing on the Old Team
Survivor: Nicaragua, Jimmy Johnson
Jimmy Johnson -- the most famous person to ever play Survivor and Season 21's oldest contestant -- was seen as a threat by the men and voted off in just the third episode. The 67-year-old Super Bowl-winning coach champ talked with TVGuide.com about his biggest mistake, the "off the wall" younger team and why colleague Terry Bradshaw would make a great castaway.
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TVGuide.com: What was the biggest problem with your game play?
Jimmy Johnson: I went into it trying to convince everyone that I wasn't going to win a million dollars and so I wasn't a threat. Some of the guys in particular didn't believe me and they felt like I was still a threat. Had I known that, I would have gone ahead and formed an alliance with the women, which I think I could have done. Had I done that, I think I could have gone on further in the game. I was surprised last night when I saw Marty considering me a threat, especially after the merge, but I didn't realize that that was happening.
TVGuide.com: Ever since the first day, Marty didn't like having you there. Why do you think he felt that way?
Johnson: I really don't know. I thought Marty and I were fine and that's why I was surprised when he considered me a threat. Again, looking back on it, I was going to form an alliance initially for a while and had I known that he considered me a threat, I would have formed an alliance.
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TVGuide.com: Do you think there was a question about your motivation because you told everyone you knew you wouldn't win the game?
Johnson: I think they knew I was serious. In the challenges, I was always right out front and a big part of them. I was the first one to jump in the mud, whereas Daniel sat out knowing it was going to be a problem with his knee. So they knew I was putting effort into the challenges. Now, at 67 years old, I knew I wasn't going to be as strong physically, especially after going through a period of time of no food and no sleep. I knew that it was going to wear on me a lot more than a younger person. So I knew that as time went on, I was going to be one of the weaker members of the tribe because of my age.
TVGuide.com: Marty also said some of the other players regarded you as "the pope." Do you agree with that? Was it hard for you that some people treated you differently?
Johnson: That was just something I had to deal with. I couldn't get around that, just because of my past history and being somewhat of a celebrity. But again, I tried to form a bond and have a relationship with everybody and I tried not to irritate everybody. Even someone like Jimmy T., who was fairly volatile, I tried to at least have a relationship with him to try to alleviate any of those concerns.
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TVGuide.com: Do you think you were successful in forming at least some of those bonds?
Johnson: As much as I would have liked to have gone further in the game, the number one reason I got into the game, besides being a fan of the show, was I wanted the adventure. I didn't go into it to win a million dollars. I went into it for the adventure and I accomplished that.
TVGuide.com: After enduring days of bad weather and starvation, was there a part of you that wanted to go home?
Johnson: That was like the first night, when I got no sleep. In that short period of time, I lost 18 pounds. I was in the seventh grade the last time I weighed 180 pounds. I do believe that takes away a little bit more energy from someone my age than a younger person.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of the younger kids, what did you think of the old versus young twist? How did that change the game for you?
Johnson: Watching the first three episodes, it seems some of the players on the younger group are a little off the wall, which would have been frustrating for me. On the older group, everybody contributed, everybody really worked around camp — there weren't really any slackers. That really was a positive for me.
TVGuide.com: How do you think this experience will affect the rest of your life?
Johnson: Well, number one, I think I love the show even more now knowing all the dynamics of it and behind-the-scenes. The other thing is, it gives me more of an appreciation for what we have. Being out there with the lack of shelter and the lack of clean water and the lack of food, it really makes me think of the people around the world that don't have enough food and don't have clean water and don't have a proper shelter.
TVGuide.com: What was the item you were most excited to have after you were voted out?
Johnson: I had a couple of cold beers [laughs]. I enjoyed it.
TVGuide.com: Have you heard from any of your co-workers or NFL friends about the show?
Johnson: Actually some of my crew with Fox NFL Sunday were disappointed and were hoping that I would be there longer. They were upset at Marty for scheming to get me off [laughs]. I have talked to them a little bit. I told [Terry] Bradshaw, I said, "If you had been there, you could have done a better job talking to those monkeys." He's a big outdoors-type person.