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Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Recommending athletes for reality TV

By Sarah Spain

Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte already has made a pitch for his spot on "The Bachelor," but his asking price may be too high.

When the latest installment of "Survivor" hits the airwaves in September, five-time MLB All-Star Jeff Kent will be one of 15 competing for cash on a remote island in the Philippines. The 2000 NL MVP hopes to do better than former NFL quarterback Gary Hogeboom (Season 11) and legendary Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson (Season 21), neither of whom managed to make it to the show's Final Tribal Council.

"Survivor" isn't Kent's first foray into reality television; he appeared on the 2009 series "The Superstars," finishing fifth with teammate Ali Landry. His leap from the playing field to the boob tube is hardly uncommon -- more athletes are becoming reality stars, nabbing gigs formerly reserved for washed-up child stars, C-list movie actors and one-hit wonders.

Rumor has it Olympic swimmer and American flag grill enthusiast Ryan Lochte has his sights set on being the next "Bachelor" -- that is, if the show can afford his reported $750,000 salary request. If they can't, there's no doubt he'll find another way to stay in the limelight.

Check out a few shows looking for the likes of Lochte, along with my picks for the next pros to get cast.. . . .

"Dancing With The Stars": At this point it's starting to feel as if pro sports leagues are a farm system for DWTS. Show producers nab athletes from the field, court, ice or pool each season and wrap them in sequins and chiffon, then send them into the ballroom.

Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver is the show's reigning champion, having charmed and cha-cha'd his way to victory alongside partner Peta Murgatroyd. Driver joins a long list of pros who have raised the mirror ball trophy, including Emmitt Smith, Shawn Johnson, Hines Ward and Apolo Anton Ohno.

Hope Solo
Hope Solo made an appearance on "Dancing With The Stars," but could another reality show be in her future?

Victor Cruz is an obvious pick for DWTS. The Giants receiver's trademark end zone salsa dance has been incorporated into Madden 13. Cruz doesn't have the star power of a Jerry Rice or a Michael Irvin, but he's got the moves, and in this case, that's all that matters.

Olympic gymnast (and queen of the meme) McKayla Maroney is a perfect pick on the women's side. The world-class vaulter would be a natural on the dance floor, plus she'd benefit greatly from a chance to show off her personality and win over any remaining detractors. If things don't go well, we'd at least get to see her give Len Goodman "the look" if he's "not impressed" with her performance.

"The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette": I don't know how they do it, but somehow the folks at "The Bachelor" manage to give us "the most dramatic rose ceremony ever" every single episode. And despite the fact that almost none of the couples from the show are still together, gosh darnit, they keep me watching. (It's a character flaw I'm willing to share with you and accept ridicule for.)

So far, former Giants backup quarterback (and current ESPN analyst) Jesse Palmer is the only pro athlete to star on "The Bachelor," but "Bachelorette" Trista Rehn (now Sutter) came from the sports world as well -- she was a Miami Heat dancer in the early 2000s. Lochte definitely could be the next pro beau, but if it doesn't work out, I've got a few more athletes in mind.

While I'd love to see Tim Tebow try to navigate the whole "fantasy suite" date card, I fear the Jets QB is just too wholesome for a show that lives and dies by the amount of action the hot tub sees. Derek Jeter would be a perfect fit for "The Bachelor." We may have to wait a few years -- say, 10 or 20 -- before he's ready to settle down (or at least ready to pretend to be ready), but I think the Yankees shortstop would make it worth the wait. Just imagine all the dishing he could do about his past relationships with "Cammy," "Mimi" and Minka.

As for the ladies, it's gotta be Hope Solo, y'all. The outspoken soccer player would be absolutely riveting as "The Bachelorette." I have no doubt her no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is approach to her career carries over to her love life, too, which could make for some truly hilarious interactions with any unsuitable suitors. Plus, by the time she'd narrowed it down to one or two guys, she might shed a few layers of protection and finally let us see her vulnerable, sensitive side. And just imagine the ratings if she somehow found a way to blame Brandi Chastain for a bad date...

"Real Housewives": Before their divorce in 2011, former NBA point guard Eric Snow and his wife, DeShawn, were on the first season of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," while Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen and his wife, Larsa, were on the first season of the Miami edition. Neither couple was asked back, presumably because they acted too much like mature adults. To make it on the "Housewives," you gotta bring the drama -- and lots of it.

Patriots star Tom Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, would be great headliners for a new installment of the franchise, "The Real Housewives of Boston." Not only would the two stunners provide plenty of eye candy, we'd also get an inside look at the everyday lives of an NFL star and a supermodel (off to practice! off to Bali!) And I'm sure the show's producers and editors can find a way to drum up some drama whenever Bridget Moynahan, with whom Brady had a relationship, stops by to drop off their son.

"Celebrity Apprentice": The Donald has fired a handful of athletes in his day, from Dennis Rodman and Natalie Gulbis to Jose Canseco and Michael Johnson. Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders and boxer Lennox Lewis both fared well on the show, while racing royalty Michael Andretti and Mets legend Darryl Strawberry made early exits.

If Peyton Manning doesn't find himself a permanent spot on "Saturday Night Live" when his football career is over; I think he could be a winner on "Celebrity Apprentice." The Broncos QB is smart, funny, well-liked and well-respected, plus he knows plenty of rich, famous people, so he'd excel in the challenges that require major charity donations. Manning might get bonus points from Trump for his political leanings, too -- in the past he has donated to the campaigns of several Republican candidates.

Not only would Serena Williams be a fierce competitor on the Trump vehicle, she might just stir things up a bit, too. The tennis champ has parlayed her victories on the court into successful business ventures including clothing, accessories and handbag lines and a partial ownership of the Miami Dolphins. Her business savvy, paired with her competitive nature and fearless attitude, could make her one of the most memorable contestants the show has ever seen. Note to the Donald -- she might not take, "You're fired" for an answer.