‘Survivor: Philippines’ Pre-Game Interview: Former MLB Star Jeff Kent


Jeff Kent (AP/Gordon Holmes)

XfinityTV.com sent me deep into the wilderness on a mission to bring you all kinds of “Survivor” stuff including behind-the-scenes tidbits, pre-game interviews with the cast, insights from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer, a look at the first Tribal Council, and much more. I’ll be cranking out this goodness daily, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates on all of this season’s “Survivor” fun.

Name: Jeff Kent
Home: Austin, TX
Occupation: Former MLB Player
Tribe: Kalabaw

Gordon Holmes: Are you going to let people know about your career in Major League Baseball?
Jeff Kent: I don’t plan on it. If people catch who I am I’m going to have to come clean. Hopefully they won’t know as much about me as you do and have me on their fantasy team.
Holmes: You made a few seasons and another time you broke my heart.
Kent: (Laughs) I’ll downplay it as best I can, if they know. But now I’m a motorcycle dealer, I have a family with four kids. I have a working ranch. That’s kind of how I’m playing this thing. Hopefully that will be enough.
Holmes: Something that I think may work in your favor is; baseball players always have a hat or a helmet on. I’d definitely recognize the name Jeff Kent, but as a baseball fan, I only really recognize players from my own team.
Kent: Well, there weren’t many white guys with mustaches walking around. I was known as one of the only guys in baseball to still have the porn-stache of the ‘80s who was still playing in the ‘90s. There is one kid here who’s wearing a whole lot of New York Yankees get-up, so hopefully he won’t catch on.
Holmes: Ever thought of losing the porn-stache?
Kent: I’ve only shaved it off one time, and that was in the World Series in 2002 and we ended up losing. I was so bitter I went home and shaved my mustache. The next day I looked in the mirror and thought, “What an ugly bastard you are.” So, I let it grow back. I haven’t shaved it since.
Holmes: What happens if you’re on the beach, you tell everyone about your ranch, and some Dodgers fan says, “You look a lot like Jeff Kent.”
Kent: I’m going to have to back into that. I’ll have to get a feeling from them of how serious they were. How much they know about me. They’ll get information on a need-to-know basis. If they know who I am, and they don’t know how long I played or how many teams I played for, I’ll have to fib my way through it in a way that makes it seem like on their level. And that’s my goal, my goal is to be on everyone’s level. If it looks like I’m bigger and better and richer, that won’t be such a good thing. I’m going to have to adapt. I don’t have a plan. I think that’ll be a good thing. I’ve been telling the media stories my whole life. I tell them what I think they need to know and what they’ve earned. I’ll be the same way with these contestants.

Holmes: It comes out that you’re former MLB star Jeff Kent, you had a long career. It’s no secret that baseball players bring in some big money. I say, “He shouldn’t be here, he doesn’t need the money. Let’s get rid of him.” How do you counter?
Kent: It’d be a throwback to Russell (Hantz) in a sense. Russell played a few years back, where he played the game and he earned the right to be the sole Survivor. He didn’t get it. He got the Sprint award. But he didn’t get the million dollars and I think he should have. That’s how the game is going to be played for me. If I get caught, then let’s play the game. Let’s see who the best player is. It’s not about who deserves the money because they’re rich or poor or in debt or starting a family. It’s not about taking care or grandma and grandpa. It’s about playing a game. The million dollars should go to the best player in this game.
Holmes: I 100% agree with you as we sit in this gazebo. But if we were in the game together, I’d absolutely use your wealth against you.
Kent: But I don’t know if there’s another play. Jimmy Johnson tried that where he said, “Oh, I don’t need the money, so use me.” That didn’t work for him.
Holmes: I spoke with Jimmy after “Survivor: Nicaragua” and he said that when he tried that strategy in the game that nobody bought it. Did you learn anything from watching him?
Kent: His heart wasn’t into it I believe. At least watching what they showed us. It just seemed like he was searching for another place to go. And as good a guy as Jimmy is from TV, I don’t know him personally, but I just don’t know if he had the same competitive nature as I have right now. There’s still a lot of competitive nature in me. Your heart’s got to be in it 100%.

Holmes: You know why I’m psyched that you’re here?
Kent: Why?
Holmes: Cause it’s always football players they bring on this show. I’m a baseball fan.
Kent: (Laughs) Cool.
Holmes: Let me get your opinion on this, my friends at Hallofverygood.com asked me; which St. Louis Cardinal would you like to see on “Survivor”? I picked catcher Yadier Molina because I thought a catcher is perfectly suited for the game. Because he’s a catcher, he’s got to be tough, he’s used to being uncomfortable. He knows how to manage the egos of a pitching staff.
Kent: I would say a catcher would fare well because he’s in control of the game. He’s got to control his pitcher, but he’s got to control the defense and the hitter too. Yadier’s changed over the years. He’s a pretty good kid, he was soft spoken, but now he’s more of a leader and more of a strength for that pitching staff. He’s a guy that would fare well here, but he could snap. More than me, even. I think he’s still a little immature. That’s where I’ve got him. I’ve got skills with manipulating my teammates. Because there have been plenty of teammates that you play with that you don’t like. But you’ve still got to go out there and play the game.
Holmes: But you have something in common with a locker room of Major League Baseball players. You’re all professional athletes who’ve made it to the pinnacle of the sport. There’s no telling who’s going to be on your tribe.
Kent: I’m going to have to deal with different personalities, different age groups. At the end of my career, I was one of the older players. You’ve got 20-year-old players and I’ve got to communicate and deal with these guys. That’s going to be a big asset of mine to communicate with all these people with different personalities, make-ups, and egos. And with my reputation, I don’t step down, I might put my foot in my mouth.

Holmes: How do your kids feel about dad running off to live on an island for 39 days?
Kent: They’re laughing at me. (Laughs) This whole process has been, let’s apply and see how far it goes. And now here I am. The applications, the videos, all of these trials, it’s happened pretty quickly. We don’t talk about it a whole lot at home. But it was a trying time. My older kids get it more than the younger kids. They like laughing at dad. They like poking me in the stomach and calling me “Fatty” and all that stuff. They’ve always seen me compete though. And that’s what I’m here to do.
Holmes: I’m a professional athlete, and I brought you into this world; don’t call me, “Fatty.”
Kent: (Laughs)

Holmes: You’ve been here a couple of days with the cast. What are your first impressions?
Kent: With nobody able to run their mouth, it’s a very boring group. We’ve got the $100-tan model, there aren’t many older people. That could be a challenging thing. Everybody looks athletic. Not a lot of people are over the hill. Probably going to have some big challenges coming up.

Holmes: Are you comfortable lying in the game?
Kent: Absolutely. You can’t win if you don’t. I get so tired of watching the show and people say they’re going to play with honor and integrity. That’s a bunch of (expletive deleted). You’re lying in some way. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s a game.
Holmes: What about flirting?
Kent: Not necessarily flirt, it’s…I think I’m prepared to be respectful to people I don’t like. There’s going to be people here that I don’t like for some reason. Looking at them without stereotypes, I’m looking at people and I’m thinking you’re probably the bitch or you’re probably the dirtbag or you’re the stupid one. I’m going to have problems with that. People are probably going to have problems with me. I’m hoping people will give each other a chance first, and that’ll be my chance to give respect to people I probably wouldn’t go to lunch with. I guess you could call it being charming or being respectful.

Holmes: If you could align with any past “Survivor” player, who would it be and why?
Kent: It wouldn’t be someone who plays like me. I want someone who plays different. Somebody you could feed off of, or stand behind, or allow to do the dirty work. Going back to Russell’s first time he was on, (“Survivor: Samoa”) how much of a scheming conniver he was, and a liar and a cheat, and he didn’t even win. The girl (Natalie White) won. I’d go with Russell in a sense that he could be the bad guy and do the dirty work. He was there to play the game. But, I’m thinking I would go with someone I’d be opposite. And he would probably be one of the best players who’s ever played the game. People think he’s a pain in the ass, but it was Russell. You let him take the heat, work with him, then feed off of him at the end. I did the same things, but I did them with respect.
Holmes: I like Russell. You know how you have friends who are rough around the edges, but they know it, and they embrace it?
Kent: Absolutely.
Holmes: That’s Russell. He’s who he is. You either like it or you don’t. If you appreciate it? You can have a good time with him.
Kent: I had that kind of reputation in baseball sometimes, too. Of being an (expletive deleted). Especially the media. But there were people in the media who knew if they wanted the real story, they come to me. They knew me and they got me. I had teammates too who thought I was an (expletive deleted), thought I was a racist. But I had other teammates, you ask them, “Is Jeff Kent a racist?” They’ll say, “No, you just don’t get him.”
Holmes: Who thought you were a racist?
Kent: Milton Bradley called me a racist when I was with L.A. He’s a punk. But what I was getting at is, people get me. And if we’re going to war, I’m who you want by your side.

Holmes: We’ve been sitting here for a bit and you haven’t been an (expletive deleted) to me yet.
Kent: (Laughs)
Holmes: I’ve got one last question, maybe this is where I’ll earn it. It’s December, Jeff Probst pulls your name out of an urn five times. What’s next? I’m assuming you’re already well off, but are there special plans for the money?
Kent: That money goes right in the bank. If there’s a millionaire out there that says he doesn’t need another million…there ain’t one out there. But, that’s not why I’m playing. I’ve played baseball, the agent negotiates the contract. He gets as much money for you as he can get. But while you’re playing, when you’re hitting, you’re only thinking about being a champion. For me to be sole Survivor, that would be pretty neat. Would it be the ultimate for me? No. I was at the plate with 50,000 people chanting my name. Driving in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning.  I’ve been there. That was the ultimate, with all due respect to Jeff and everyone. And the reason I’m here is because “Survivor” is such a respectful show. I’ve got a lot to lose here. If this show comes in and I burn my reputation out there, that could be damaging for what I’ve created. What I’m here to do is challenge myself and compete.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Philippines” – Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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