John Rocker was one of sports’ most controversial and outspoken figures during his short reign as one of baseball’s most dominant closers.
His loud-mouthed ways made him a lightning rod during and after his playing days, and it’s also afforded him opportunities in retirement. The latest of those opportunities might make him a TV star.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the former Atlanta Braves closer will be a contestant on the upcoming season of CBS’ long-running reality show “Survivor.”
There’s a twist for this season, though. There are six contestants split up into pairs. According to EW, Rocker will compete with his girlfriend, Julie McGee.
Here’s the real kicker: Among the pairs competing in the upcoming season will be a gay couple. Broadway actors Reed Kelly and Josh Canfield will comprise another team. In today’s society, that’s not very noteworthy, but given Rocker’s past insensitive, homophobic comments, it certainly adds an element to the show.
In a 1999 Sports Illustrated profile, Rocker was asked about playing in New York, and he responded with a widely publicized, hateful rant.
“I’d retire first,” he said. “It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark looking like you’re (riding through) Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing.
“The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?”
Rocker doesn’t think those remarks — made in 1999 — will be much of a factor on “Survivor.”
“I see these folks that I’m getting ready to play this game with as very similar to the 13 years of professional baseball that I played, and the teammates that I played with,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Some of my biggest supporters after that SI debacle were my current and past teammates.”
See more from Rocker and his girlfriend below.
Photo via Gregory Fisher/MLB Hall of Fame