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Under the Dome
Oct 05 2010, 04:35 PM by Marty Flanagan
Coach Jimmy Johnson entered season 21 of Survivor as a
student of the game. Armed with his leadership skills, a
sound strategy, and a deep knowledge of the show's history, he
appeared poised to go far. But for all his preparations, it
was his celebrity status and unfailing desire to tell the truth
that were his undoing. Here he chats about his time on the
show and why he had yet to secure an alliance when he was sent
packing.At tribal council, from a strategy perspective, why did you
admit that you were the weakest player?
Well, I was just being honest, you know. I didn't say I was the
weakest; I said I was one of the weak players. And the reason being
is, you know, I'm 67 years old. I think the wear of the game, the
no sleep and no food and no clean water, it probably had more of an
effect on someone of my age than someone younger. I thought really
the weakest player was Daniel. But I was just being upfront with
everybody and being honest that I've got to be considered one of
the weaker players, but I didn't think I was the weakest.If you felt Daniel was a weak player, did it ever occur to
you at tribal council that you should point that out to people?
That maybe it could have saved you?
I didn't think that I needed to because I think everybody pretty
well knew that. I mean, he pulled himself out of the first
challenge and he sat that one out. He volunteered to sit out. And
there was always concern about his knee on any kind of challenge
where there was any kind of running or moving around. And around
camp, you know, he really didn't do a lot around camp. I'm not
trying to trash Daniel, I'm just trying to be upfront about who was
contributing on our tribe. But I didn't realize Daniel had an
alliance with Marty and Jill. See that was a surprise. The
first time I realized that was when I watched the episode.Speaking of alliances, did you ever try to approach anyone
while you were out there and try to set something
No, I didn't. And I talked to Jane and to Holly, and I told
them that I wouldn't vote them off. I said that at that time
I wasn't locking in any strong alliance. And I eventually would
have gotten to that. But I wanted to see who I could bond with and
who I could truly trust. I didn't want to do like what Wendy and
Holly did initially. They made an alliance and then broke it at the
very first tribal council. And so I wanted to see who I could
really trust and bond with before I made an alliance and probably
should have done it a few days earlier.How difficult was it to lead a team with guys like Marty
and Jimmy T. as compared to football players?
You know, I really got thrown into that role. I told them upfront
that I didn't want to be the leader; I didn't want to be the boss.
I just wanted to enjoy the adventure and that's the reason I was
there. And I tried to convince them that, I'm not going to win a
million bucks so I'm not a threat, just let me enjoy this
And then they got to arguing about building the shelter and making
some decisions, they came to me and said, you know, you've got to
help us make some of these decisions and the strategy for the
challenges and for around camp. So I reluctantly went into that
role, but in years past someone in that role is usually the guy
voted out, so I didn't want that role.Did you become aware that Marty had it out for you when you
saw it on TV or did you kind of get an idea of that on the
No, I mean, when I watched the episode it was a complete surprise
to me. I was shocked because Marty and I, I thought, really had a
good relationship and I thought I had convinced him that I really
wasn't at threat. I said, "Listen, I'm not a threat, no one's going
to give me a million bucks, so you don't have to worry about me."
And I said sincerely and I was sincere about it, I said, "I'd love
for one of you to win a million bucks." I was going to give
the money to charity anyway. And so evidently I didn't do a very
good job of convincing Marty that I wasn't a threat.I'm wondering how different it was for you to actually be
out in the game,having watched several seasons on television. What
was the biggest wakeup call for you?
I think the biggest wakeup call was the first night. And I think
the first night was probably the most difficult night of all of
them because it was cold. I was soaking wet, it was a downpour of
rain all night long, and I'm laying on a hard bamboo, and you're
just saying, oh boy, I hope that sun comes up soon. And it was -
that first night was just so difficult. And then the second night
was just a little better.Now how did you react to Jimmy T's claim that you were
threatened by his natural leadership skills?
I was amused. And I think most everybody on the tribe was amused.
Because, you know, there was a lot of them that wanted to vote
Jimmy T out at the very first tribal council and I convinced them
not to do it.
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