Derrick Kosinski's "Ultimate Challenge Radio" Powered by Talent Network
Post Written By: TIM KOSKUBA
Ultimate Love to: MTV.com
Welcoming my man Tim Koskuba back to the UCR site with another great contribution right up my alley that The Challenge is the unofficial fifth sport. Tim is back with this blog post comparing some of the competitors from The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons to their NFL counterpart or doppelganger if you'll have it. I will be back at the end of the week with a new podcast breaking down episodes 3 & 4 and have very interesting guests lined up. Thanks again to Tim Koskuba for helping to keep the pulse beating here on UCR and hope you enjoy and comment on this post. - Derrick
The end of the summer/the start of the fall marks the beginning of two of the country's favorite sports, the NFL and MTV's “The Challenge”. To me, Sundays are devoted to football, unhealthy snacks, and trying to get Matthew Berry to answer my fantasy football questions on Twitter. Wednesdays are very similar. It's a countdown to 10 pm ET, a few less unhealthy snacks, and trying to virtually hit on Emily Schromm, Cara Maria, and Sarah on Twitter. These are a just a few of the many similarities between 'The Challenge' and the NFL. Let's look at some of the Challengers and their NFL counterparts...
Evan Starkman – Eli Manning
Zach Nichols – Robert Griffin III
One of my biggest 'Battle of the Seasons' story lines heading into the show was the debut of Zach. Anyone that even saw promos or commercials for 'Real World: San Diego' knew that Zach would be a perfect fit on 'The Challenge', just like anyone that saw Robert Griffin III in college knew he'd be a perfect fit in the NFL. Despite not being the #1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, the level of excitement for RG3's debut was off the charts. He had all the attributes of a polarizing figure in the NFL before he had thrown one pass. When he eventually did make his debut against the Saints, he had an electrifying game with 320 yards passing, 42 yards rushing, and two touchdown passes. In a crazy week one of the NFL, everyone ended up talking about RG3. On the 'Challenge' side of things, Zach didn't really get an opportunity to make a physical impact with the first challenge, but quickly made a social impact with his seemingly immediate hook-up with Jonna and his drunken rampage with Frank. For someone that had never been on a Challenge before, Zach really played a big part in stealing the show. I would be shocked if at some point, we didn't get to see Zach make a physical, 'Rookie of the Year' type of statement that Robert Griffin III has done so far. Regardless of when that takes place, both men will have fans glued to the screens to see what they'll do next.
Sarah Rice – Arian Foster
Coming off 'Real World: Brooklyn', next to no one predicted Sarah to last past the quarter-mark of 'The Ruins'. It'd be a typical rookie run and we'd maybe see her on one more show and then she'd disappear. Needless to say, expectations were nonexistent. Arian Foster. If you're an NFL fan and you read/hear that name and one immediately thinks 'stud', an elite running-back, one of the best. However, what you may not know is that Arian Foster went UNDRAFTED. Every team in the league passed on him multiple times in the seven rounds of the NFL draft. Talk about expectations being in the toilet? However, Foster worked hard, played on the practice squad, played on special teams, and did whatever was asked of him by the Houston Texans. Very similarly to how Sarah worked her way through challenges, elimination rounds, and even emotional torment at the hands of Kenny, Evan, and Johnny. Eventually Foster got his chance when the starting RB for the Texans, Steve Slaton, got injured just prior to week 1. Foster went on to torch the Indianapolis Colts for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns. He parlayed that opportunity into becoming the full-time starting RB and a rushing title with 1,616 yards. After Sarah's hard work, she made it to the Finals of 'The Ruins' and made over $17,000 in doing so. She followed that up with a second place finish on 'Cutthroat' and another nice payday. Both Foster and Sarah are looking for that ever-elusive championship this season and if the past is any indication, they'll both scrap and claw for it.
Alton Williams – Troy Polamalu
Despite 'The Challenge' and the NFL having some phenomenal athletes in their respective sports, these are probably the two best in each medium. Go back and watch 'The Gauntlet 2' if you need a reminder of how ridiculous Alton can be. For those that haven't seen Troy Polamalu, go on Youtube and check out some of the highlight reels he's got on there. As a Ravens fan, I know first hand what kind of havoc he can create for offenses (IE: the play he made in the Ravens/Steelers game, week 13 of 2010). Any offensive coordinator facing the Steelers will immediately tell you they have to game plan for number 43 before anyone else. In the first Sunday night game of the season, you can see Peyton Manning calling audibles to his unit and letting them know where Polamalu is on the field on nearly every possession. I'm not on the Challenges themselves, but I'd warrant a guess that anyone not within Alton's alliance or on his team is game-planning against him as their first, second, and third priority. Both of them also create so many 'Wow!' moments with their physical gifts. I'll never forget Alton climbing up the cargo net on 'The Gauntlet 2' against Adam in what seemed like four seconds, just like I'll never forget Polamalu jumping over the Titans offensive line on their one-yard line and stopping Kerry Collins from QB-sneaking in a touchdown. Despite having several entertaining 'Head and Shoulders' commercials, Troy Polamalu remains a very soft-spoken gentleman, which is another near identical quality to Alton. I suppose Troy does hold the edge in the hair department however...
Mark Long – Ed Reed
In the realm of 'The Challenge', there is not a more respected competitor than Mark Long. 'The Godfather' has competed in six Challenges (including the very first), has made it to four Finals, and won two of them. Before 'Battle of the Exes', he had never even been in an elimination round. Because of that, there's a very strong case to be made that Mark is one of the best social players in the game's history. Just like Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens is in the discussion of being the greatest safety of all time. Just like Mark, Reed is hugely respected by his peers. Even at the advanced NFL age of 34, Ed Reed was voted the 16th best player in the entire NFL by the players themselves. In NFL years, Reed would probably be about 50-something, just like in reality show years, Mark is be about 50-something. That doesn't mean their production has slipped, however. In his last two seasons, Ed Reed has 89 tackles, 11 interceptions, and two forced fumbles. In his last two Challenges, Mark has made it to one final, winning $15,000 in the process, and then proceeded to lose in the final elimination round on 'Battle of the Exes'. As Randy Couture once said, “Not bad for an old guy”. One last similarity between the two is their constant flip-flopping on the matter of retirement. For the last three seasons, Reed has teased fans with public retirement talk through the media. As we know, Mark 'retired' after 'The Gauntlet 2', then returned for 'The Duel 2', and then returned once again for 'Battle of the Exes'. Luckily for fans of both the Ravens and MTV, both of these grizzled vets continue to grace us with their continued ass-kickery.
Camila Nakagawa - Steve Smith
A 5'3 Brazilian girl from the 'Spring Break Challenge'? Doesn't sound too intimidating on paper, does it? Neither does a 5'9 wide receiver from the University of Utah. I'm talking of course about Camila and Carolina Panthers wideout, Steve Smith. In her official Challenge debut on 'Cutthroat', Camila showed how scrappy she was in both the physical game and the social game. She wasn't going to be pushed around by Tori and Brad's alliance on the Red Team and she certainly wasn't pushed around in either of her elimination round victories against Emilee and Katie. If you look up the definition of "scrappy" in the NFL dictionary, you'll see a picture of Steve Smith throwing down with Malcolm Jenkins or Corey Webster. He may be a smaller guy, but he lets no one push him around. Sound familiar? Both were counted out due to their size early on, but both Camila and Steve Smith have overcome that and have achieved major success. Camila recently won 'Battle of the Exes' with Johnny and earned 75k in the process, while last year, Steve Smith became the Carolina Panthers all-time leader in receiving yards, earned his fifth Pro-Bowl appearance, and joined an elite club by becoming the 35th player to ever amass 10,000 receiving yards in a career. It's safe to say that size doesn't matter when it comes to these two.
Follow Tim Koskuba:
Tim Koskuba "Talking Tough" MMA podcast, going LIVE Monday's at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT on JoeShowRadio.com
Tim Koskuba (@KO_Skuba) on Twitter
Tim Koskuba (TKO_MMA) on Twitter
MTV The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons (Official MTV Web Page)