Some people take to “Survivor” like a fish takes to water. The lack of food never really seems to bother them, they have little trouble getting along with others, and the stress of the game doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Steve Wright took to “Survivor” like a fish takes to molasses. The 51-year-old former Dallas Cowboy had trouble dealing with the lack of food, he participated in a shouting match with Double-0 Phillip, and thanks to Boston Rob, he never really had a chance to maneuver within the game.
I spoke with Steve the morning after he was eliminated from Redemption Island to get his take on his controversial argument, how he views Boston Rob’s dominance, and if Redemption Island is a break from the game…
Gordon Holmes: Last night Phillip claimed that he’s only acting crazy, he’s just pretending so people will want to go to the end with him. Do you buy that?
Steve Wright: No, not at all. I think when the cameras are on you 24/7 you can only hide so much. The real you will come through, and I think America’s seen the guy he is. A Looney Tune. The question mark behind his name as to if he’s a federal agent? Nobody in that position would brag about themselves. They’re very humble people. I don’t think he’s really stable.
Gordon: A couple of episodes ago, you and he had an altercation where he accused you of being a racist. What was going through your head when you clearly had one intention in calling him “crazy” and he took it another way?
Steve: It was pretty sad. He obviously has a huge chip on his shoulder. And I’m learning a lot as I’m watching this show. He’s calling himself a “red-headed stepchild.” He felt paranoid because of Grant and Boston Rob. I haven’t walked in his shoes, so I’ll go easy on him, but he’s got a log on his shoulder. I called him “crazy” just like I’d call you “crazy” or anybody else. I’ve got probably over a dozen texts from black former teammates and buddies saying, “Racist, my ass.” I’ve got a black brother-in-law. There was no ulterior meaning behind it.
Gordon: Were you comfortable with the way it was portrayed in the episode?
Steve: Yeah. And I think Probst did a great job opening it all up and getting it all out on the table. Like I’ve said, I’ve gotten a lot of great comments from around the country. They say I took the higher road and I came off well.
Gordon: Probst did a bang-up job. He brought both sides of the issue to light and alleviated some of the tension.
Steve: Yeah, Jeff’s amazing that way. He’s a sharp guy that really knows how to open you up. He’s like a therapist. He gets things exposed and settled, then you can move on. But I thought we’d put it behind us, I had no idea that Phillip didn’t believe me. That’s how narrow-minded the guy is.
Gordon: Yeah, but in hindsight you’re not that shocked, are you?
Steve: No, I’m not. I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for his 16-year-old son having to take the pressure of all his buddies talking about his dad. When I was voting for him, I said I hope he finds peace in his heart some day.
Gordon: You seemed to be having a tough time out there. Did the thought of quitting ever cross your mind?
Steve: It definitely passes through everybody’s mind. It’s a pretty cold slap in the face. The first night you know you’re not going to be eating much the next day. You go through some pretty dark times out there. You’ve got to get each other through it. We all made a vow not to complain. We hung together and supported each other through some pretty tough times. Julie was missing her girls and her home was being foreclosed on. She helped me through a lot. But, quitting does cross your mind.
Gordon: As a former NFL player, how would you compare surviving in professional football versus surviving the Nicaraguan wilderness?
Steve: That’s a good question, but in the NFL training camp they make sure you’re eating like a king, that you have a soft bed, and an air-conditioned room. They’re going to take care of you. My body is used to eating every three hours. There’s nothing to compare “Survivor” to. It was rough beyond my wildest dreams. It’s rough and it’s real.
Gordon: Boston Rob seems to be running the show. How did that affect your feelings toward him? Was it respect? Was it resentment?
Steve: It was a little of both. It was respect for how well he was playing the game and watching him control his tribe. And then on the other side you can’t believe how his tribe mates are under his spell and drinking the Kool-Aid. We were working like crazy trying to infiltrate the girls or Grant. We felt sorry for them in a way. We had plenty of fish and we offered it to them, and Rob wouldn’t let them eat it. Also, anybody that plays the game three times, I respect. And he’s not a bad guy, he’s a likable guy who plays a really tough game.
Gordon: What was the mood at Redemption Island when you arrived?
Steve: It was really friendly. Matt’s a great kid and Ralph, Mike, and I were close. It was a great evening sitting around the fire.
Gordon: Without having to worry about strategy, does it make Redemption Island feel like a break from the game?
Steve: Yes it was. It was a huge break from the game. But it was a break from the game the last week or so. We knew our days were numbered no matter how hard we tried. It was like the game was over at that point. There was no cracking them.
Gordon: Word association time, let’s start with Matt.
Steve: Love him, great kid.
Steve: Big heart, warrior.
Steve: Simple and loving.
Steve: Just sweet and innocent.
Gordon: Boston Rob?
Steve: Very intelligent.
Steve: (Laughs) CRAZY!
Gordon: In the non-racial way, of course.
Steve: No racial in there, just crazy.
Steve: Very sweet.
Steve: How about…follower.
Gordon: I feel like you had a rough run out there. Was there a time when you were enjoying yourself or found yourself inspired?
Steve: Just having my solitude time after the merge, meditating out on the rocks. That was really inspirational and lifting.
Gordon: What do you take from the time that you bring back to your everyday life?
Steve: No complaining, happy with what I have, not wanting more, and appreciating who you’re with without distractions.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes