Viewers tuning into the premiere of ABC's pulse-pounding new game show The Chair last night witnessed the shock of their lives: A kinder, gentler John McEnroe. But the potty-mouthed tennis legend-turned-sports pundit-turned-game show host insists it's not his job to antagonize Chair's occupants whose goal it is to answer a series of questions while keeping their heart rate below a certain level.
"I prefer to see my role as being more supportive and actually hoping they win," confesses the 42-year-old, who adds that future episodes may showcase his trademark temperament. "That option is always available. I still have enough energy to get under [their] skin if necessary, but I'd like to see people win."
And to that, we have only this to say: "Johnny, we don't even know you anymore." But as McEnroe points out, one of the reasons he jumped on The Chair was to show people he's more than just a hot-headed jock. "I've had a second opportunity through my commentary and hopefully through [The Chair] to show a [different] side of my personality," says the doting father of six. "It's fun to rant and rave a bit, but there's also another side."And to what does he attribute his expletive-laced courtside tantrums? "It was very, very intense out there," he laments. "And that was the way I was brought up: to compete. Ultimately, I have no one to blame but myself for my actions."