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The Jimmy Johnson Survivor report: Episode 1

MJD
Shutdown Corner

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Shutdown Corner's "Survivor" correspondant is Chris Wilcox, longtime Cowboys fan and proprietor of BlueandOrange.net. He'll keep us posted on Jimmy Johnson's progress through the season.

He survived coaching under Jerry Jones; can he survive the rough terrain of Nicaragua? Jimmy Johnson, former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, and current studio analyst for "FOX NFL Sunday" will be one of the contestants on "Survivor: Nicaragua."

This is not the first time a former NFL personality has competed on "Survivor," as former NFL backup quarterback Gary Hogeboom competed on the 11th season in Guatemala and finished seventh. Coach Johnson will look to improve upon that performance, but after his first three days, it's not looking good for him.

For those who are unfamiliar with the show, a brief overview: Twenty strangers are split into two "tribes." Sometimes the tribes are determined randomly, but other times they are separated by sex, age or even race. This season, the two tribes are split up between 10 people 30 and younger and 10 folks 40 and older, with each side having five men and five women. The two tribes compete in immunity challenges with the losing tribe forced to go to Tribal Council, where they will vote out one of their members.

There are two wild cards thrown into the mix: First, hidden on each beach is a immunity idol that, if found, can be used by its holder to keep themselves in the game even if they are voted out. Second, a twist new to this season is a "Medallion of Power," which sounds like something out of a bad science-fiction movie. Whoever finds the Medallion of Power can use it to have an advantage in the immunity challenges if they choose to use it, but once a tribe uses the medallion, it reverts to the other tribe and they have the option of using it.

The younger tribe started the game with possession of the medallion, but chose to trade it for fire and fishing gear. Despite holding the Medallion of Power, the older tribe chose not to use it for the immunity challenge, which was a convoluted obstacle where five members of each tribe held "gutters" on a downward slope as another teammate dumped buckets of water down the gutters, which emptied into a bucket. Once the bucket was full, puzzle pieces fell from a levy and the remaining four tribemates put together a puzzle, with the first tribe to put its puzzle together being declared the winner. The older folks came up short, forcing coach Johnson's squad to vote somebody off first.

The coach had a rough go of things to start the show. He got sick during the first night and was seen throwing up, something I'm sure Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long will give him grief over on Sunday. After his side lost the immunity challenge, he openly talked with other tribe members about being the second-weakest member of the team behind Wendy Jo, the goat rancher. Several members made clear their intention to vote the coach off, finding him to be a threat to win the game due to his celebrity status. Johnson disagreed, claiming that the jury pool would be reluctant to give a man already known to be a millionaire the $1 million prize.

In the end, Wendy Jo proved to be an annoying chatterbox during Tribal Council, and those types tend to go quickly. After all, who wants to spend 39 days in close quarters with an annoying person? Coach Johnson received no votes, and he and eight other of his peers voted for Wendy Jo. She in turn voted for tribemate Yve, which the home audience probably found strange since Yve did absolutely nothing on camera of note the entire episode.

How do coach Johnson's future prospects look in this game? Not well. He didn't seem to have too many close bonds out there, and "Survivor" is a game of alliances. Jimmy T, the fisherman, is already gunning for him, though that guy seems at least a little paranoid, as he made comments that he didn't like the way another tribemate was looking at him. Beyond not having any firm alliances, he himself claimed to be the second-weakest member of the tribe, and they just voted the weakest person off. His head will be the next one on the chopping block if they lose another challenge, so I suspect he will be pushing hard for his tribemates to use the Medallion of Power in the next challenge.

Coach Johnson commented in a confessional that he was hoping to be in a tribe with the younger folks, expecting them to help carry him through the team portion of the game. This definitely would have seemed to benefit him, as he has experience in leading a group of young men to victory on the gridiron. His leadership skill set does not seem to play as well on an older tribe. Coupled with the coach's physical limitations, he does not seem to be in a position to go very far in this game. We will see if he can do anything to help his position over the next few weeks.

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