CHRISTIAN OKOYE played his entire NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs, but
now he's become a buccaneer. The former running back is a contestant on Pirate
Master ( CBS on May 31, 8 p.m.), a floating reality show set in the Caribbean.
The show—the latest creation of Mark Burnett, the man behind Survivor and The
Apprentice—places 16 competitors aboard a 179-foot ship. Grouped in teams, they
spend 33 days deciphering clues and racing to find buried treasure; they also
must avoid being "cut adrift" at the end of each episode. The winner
gets a $500,000 grand prize. Okoye, the only celebrity on a cast whose members
include a receptionist, two bartenders and a glass blower, says that before he
signed up for the show, "I just made sure I still remembered how to
Okoye, 45, was
the NFL's leading rusher in 1989 and made two Pro Bowls in his six seasons
before retiring in '93 with a knee injury. Now living in Rancho Cucamonga,
Calif., he works as a television studio analyst for Oakland Raiders broadcasts.
("Some of [ Oakland's fans] are upset that a Chief is talking about their
Raiders," he says.) He also runs a fitness and nutrition company and the
Christian Okoye Foundation, which gives free sports clinics and business
tutorials to underprivileged kids.
Okoye, who jogs,
bicycles and lifts weights to keep in shape, says he readied himself to be a
pirate in the Caribbean by "watching a few Johnny Depp movies." He came
away from the show—taping is complete, but he can't say how he did—with respect
for this new kind of competition. "Preparing for football is a little
easier," he says. "It's all physical. You bang heads, and then go home
and take Tylenol."