Dallas Cowboys

Survivor: Nicaragua. The Coach as Champion. Week 1

Once upon a time at a Valley Ranch far, far away, Jimmy Johnson drove his black Nissan 300Z into the parking lot and hurried into the building. He'd summoned a snotty-nosed, smart-ass reporter to his office, and I sat nervously in the foyer.

After reading aloud my story in that day's Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the Dallas Cowboys planning to use young defensive end Tony Hill as a one-man spy on Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb, Jimmy slammed the paper down, leaned over his desk and demanded:

"You don't have to help us row our boat, but I'm warning you not to punch holes in it."

The look in his eye that day I recognized again Wednesday night as "Coach" made his debut on CBS' Survivor: Nicaragua.

Trust me, this guy was made to win a show based on strategy, leadership, strength and, above all else, manipulation.

Johnson is on the long list of candidates for this year's Pro Football  Hall of Fame class. I'd be surprised if he didn't win the $1 million as winner of this show.

In general I despise reality TV, but Jimmy has me intrigued.

This season (No. 21 if you've lost track) it's young vs. old and Johnson, 67, immediately took control of team Espada. The young team - La Flor - includes a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

When the old team lost a challenge to the young squad, Jimmy offered himself as one of the weakest players. But, like everything else in his make-up, it was an orchestrated, agenda-driven trick 'em-dick 'em. Some Montana chick was ultimately voted off, not Jimmy.

Johnson's manipulative strategy seems to be trying to convince his teammates that since there's no chance of him ultimately winning they'd be wise to keep him around until the final.

OK, I'm hooked. I think.