When I interviewed Boston Rob Mariano in Panama right before the All-Stars season kicked off, he told me to save the tape in my recorder as evidence because he was guaranteeing me right then and there that he was going to win. Pretty bold words from a guy that didn’t even make the jury his first time around in Marquesas. But he backed it up. Technically, the victory went to his now-wife Amber, but that was just due to a bitter jury that couldn’t handle being bested by the cocky Bostonian. Rob claimed he would run the game, and he did.
So it was no surprise when he busted out the same bravado for our pre-game chat before Heroes Vs. Villains (premiering Feb. 11 on CBS). The entire time was basically him coming up with different ways to convince me how dominant he was going to be once again. It’s the type of thing you’d normally shrug off, but not only did he follow through on it before, but he also would have won the Amazing Race had producers not convinced the pilot of a plane that had already departed the gate to come back to pick up Uchenna and Joyce. [Intel on a potentially huge distraction for Boston Rob, as well as exclusive on location video after the jump.]
Rob knows he’s a target for the way he ran All-Stars, but is confident he can overcome it. “I’m under no false impression that a lot of these people are probably pretty jealous that myself and my wife got to do not only Survivor but the Amazing Race twice each,” he told me in Samoa. “And now I’m back again. I’m sure there’s an air of arrogance among some of them that say ‘get him the hell out of here,’ but let me tell ya something, at the end of the day, they won’t be able to do it. They won’t be able to write my name down. After 20 seasons you’d think they’d know enough to get rid of me. But they won’t.”
We’ll see about that, but I have another concern about Rob this time around: his baby. Rob and Amber had a baby girl just 5 weeks before he left for Samoa. How focused will he be on the game with a newborn at home halfway around the world? We saw Jonny Fairplay quit Micronesia just a few days in over concern for his unborn daughter. How will Rob react? “I don’t think it’s gonna be as much of a distraction as its gonna be a motivator for me. Something where I’m really gonna have to dig down inside and know inside of myself what it is that I’m playing for.” I could never see Boston Rob quitting anything, but we’ll see if he’s as focused as he was last time around.
He sure seems it in the video interview below. Watch it for some classic Mariano bravado. (You can videos with all of the contestants at our bitchin’ Survivor video hub.) And make sure to check back tomorrow for the next in our continuing series of looks at all the players of Heroes vs. Villains as we profile fan favorite Jessica “Sugar” Kiper. (And here’s yesterday’s installment with Cirie, in case you missed it). Oh, and to get Survivor scoop delivered right to you, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss. Okay, take it away, Rob…
Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS