Cheatin’ NFL DB, his ex-wife and Amazing Race
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I admit it. I’m hard core into reality television. Not only the mainstream shows -- Dancing with the Stars, Survivor Wherever, Project Runway -- but also the, um, less erudite shows. Tabatha’s Salon Makeover, Real Housewives of Orange County, New York and, oh, gosh, the anticipation ... Atlanta. Yes, I will watch.
So last night was DVR night because The Amazing Race 13 (TAR to its groupies) kicked off. The teams had gathered at Memorial Coliseum last April and began racing to Brazil.
(A TAR primer for all you rookies. The show has 11 teams of two travelers who race around the world to win a million dollars. Usually contestants eat horrible things, milk animals that aren’t cows -- camels for example, rappel down buildings and always -- always -- backstab somebody, sometimes even their partner.
The highlight of last night’s season premiere were Ken and Tina, a divorced couple from Tampa, Ky., the show’s producers told us, is an ex-NFL player. (I love it when they do this; a few season ago a female team from Atlanta were identified as ‘NFL wives.’)
After extensive research (OK, google and the guys at sportsjournalists.com) it turns out he’s Ken Greene, who played at Washington State and then was a defensive back for the NFL Cardinals and Chargers. Now he’s a home builder in Tampa and, according to his CBS Amazing Race bio, a man who cheated on his wife and now wants to make it up to her.
And what better way than to drag her, sweaty and tense, through an icky series of challenges?
But from the looks of things, Tina is tough. Tougher than Ken. Mouthy too. And kind of demanding. ‘TURN LEFT. OH, RIGHT.’ And, ‘Why didn’t you learn to say, ‘We need to go straight’ in Spanish?’ Well, Tina, for starters, you were in Brazil, where they speak Portuguese.
Reality shows are starting to understand what it takes to hook sports fans. Cast an athlete and the athlete is going to compete. Apolo Anton Ohno, Kristi Yamaguchi, Jason Taylor -- and, more recently, Misty May-Treanor and Warren Sapp -- have been the emotional stars the last few seasons of Dancing With the Stars.
I think that May-Treanor is suffering from a bit of anti-Olympian backlash. Because, you know, it would be much better to see Brooke Burke win. Then maybe I’d find out whether she’s the star or the dancer.
But my new favorite team in TAR this season is Ken and Tina. After the first episode my sense is that if Ken cheats on Tina again, it will be hard not to root for Ken.
-- Diane Pucin