If what he says is true, and he has only seen a handful of episodes of ABC's The Bachelor, then New York Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer is, scarily, a natural to succeed kissing bandit Bob Guiney in the reality-TV "rose bowl" (starting tomorrow at 9 pm/ET). "There are a couple of hot-tub scenes," the muscle-bound 25-year-old readily admits. "I'll probably get a couple [of phone calls about them from my mother... but] I'm not going to ask for her opinion, I'll tell you that!"

Luckily, the affable hunk, who lists a nice rump among the qualities he most admires in a woman, didn't need Mom's input on his selection of a mate. This go-round, a close friend of his is pulling a Jennifer Garner in the ladies' house. "As soon as the idea came up [to employ a spy], I jumped all over it. I thought it was a great idea," he says. "I think it really, really helped me with some of the tougher decisions."

Isn't that romantic. Naturally, Palmer won't reveal his and his chosen one's wedding date — or confirm that there is (or isn't) one. But he certainly sounds confident that he has scored a keeper. "We've been sneaking under the CIA radar [communicating as much as we can] on secret walkie-talkies," he chuckles. And whether their relationship proves to have all the staying power of Aaron and Helene's, he'll remain proud of his place in the pop-culture Jacuzzi. "I was honored that [the producers] considered me to do it... and it didn't conflict with football season."