"If I'm going out, I'm going to go out with a bang and I'm going to go out naked."
Advertisement

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies.

Rough waves and a rocky cave wall spelled disaster for Tommy Sheehan on The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies. If you ask the Survivor: Island of the Idols winner, he doesn't actually remember most of this week's daily challenge, which required players to swim through a narrow cave while battling an extremely choppy ocean, because at some point he hit his head. He still finished the race — somehow losing his shorts along the way but still winning his heat — only to find out later at the hospital that he had a concussion and therefore had to leave the game.

"It's tough to go out that way," Sheehan tells EW. "Personally I'd much rather have lost or gone out even in elimination, because with an injury it's always like if I didn't get injured, what could have happened? Could I have potentially won? I feel like I was getting my footing in the game, but there's nothing you can do about injuries. It was out of my hands. I always joke with anybody from my season, 'You're lucky I got hurt because I was going to win the whole thing.'"

Below, Sheehan breaks down exactly how he got injured, if he ever found his shorts, whether he's serious about retiring from reality TV, and more.

the challenge
'The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies'
| Credit: mtv

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you remember from that challenge?

TOMMY SHEEHAN: [Laughs] That's what's exciting, is that tonight when I watch it, I'll see it for the first time. Knowing that Big T is really good swimmer and that I'm a lifeguard, I thought we had a really good chance to gain power and then switch up the tide and try to get some vets out. What I do remember from that challenge was jumping in, grabbing my bomb, swimming down, we grabbed our second bomb, and as we were turning back I was ahead of Big T. I kept turning around to see if she was okay and was on pace, and Big T was crushing it. She was right on my tail. One of the times when I turned back to see where she was, I just remember a wave coming in sideways and took me into the rocks. And then after that it kind of went blank. I don't remember going on the jet ski, I don't remember swimming back. And then when I came to, it was me laying on the ground without clothes, and I remember I was telling Big T I was sorry because I thought I had to get medevacked. But she was like, "No, Tommy, we finished and we beat CT and Berna." So I'm proud of myself. Even though I got a concussion, I still have the heart and the determination to finish out the challenge, and even beat the legend CT himself.

It is impressive that you not only finished with a concussion but also won your heat — and you don't even remember it.

Thank you. That's something that I can even show my future kids and my future grandkids. I strongly hate anyone that quits anything, so even with an injury you give it your all and you go all out, even if it's going to take you out of the game and you might not remember it. [Laughs] It was something that I will definitely not remember, but also remember forever.

How did you feel after finishing the challenge?

I've never had an injury in my life, never broken a bone. I remember coming to, I was throwing up, and my head was just the worst pain I've ever had in my life, so I knew something was off. I had no memory, and right then and there I was like, that's a telltale sign. I tried to hide it because I didn't want to go home, but I know you only get one head in your life. If it was an arm or leg, I could have hobbled or I could have done the events with one arm, but you can't really mess with your head. So I knew I needed to get it checked out.

Did you go to the hospital as soon as the challenge ended?

After the challenge ended, the doctors there hooked me up to IVs because I kept throwing up. I was extremely weak, but I said I was fine. I went back to where everyone else was cheering, and I felt like I was on a merry-go-round. I couldn't really even stand in one spot, I was so dizzy. I had to sit. The producers there took such good care of me. They got me food, they sat me down in a chair, they got me a blanket because I was freezing. And then right after the challenge wrapped up, I went back to the house and my head was getting worse and worse and worse. So they pulled me to go get it checked out, and that's where you see my downfall.

What was your reaction when you learned you had a concussion?

I knew I couldn't stay. There was an elimination that night, and imagine if it was a Hall Brawl or something like that. I knew that MTV wouldn't have allowed me to go into an elimination like that, and if you can't do an elimination, you can't be on the cast. So I knew right when they told me I had a concussion that my journey was over, and it hit me hard. I finally felt like the Survivor [alliance] thing was in the past, "The List" was in the past, I got a real good relationship with the rookies, I had real good relationships with the vets. I had a great partner that I loved in Big T. I feel like I was finally about to be able to start making moves and I was getting comfortable. And now it was all over.

the challenge
'The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies'
| Credit: mtv

Which goodbye was the hardest for you?

There was two goodbyes that were super-hard for me: One was Michele Fitzgerald, we went through a lot this season. She also got injured [during this challenge] — she got stitches in her nose. She's one of my best friends in real life, so I felt like I was leaving her to now fend for herself, but she's so badass I knew she would be fine. And then also Big T and I were strangers three weeks ago, and then we became such close friends. We were talking about each other's fears and we were pushing each other to do better, and I just didn't want to let her down. Just seeing Big T and how sad she was and how her name was on the chopping block, I felt like I was leaving her out to dry too.

I was surprised at how well Big T and "Little T" was working as a duo. It was such an odd pairing but it really worked.

Yeah, I think Big T just needed a partner for once that just was like, "You're good enough." She is one of the best, if not the best, social players in the game, and she just needed to work on her running a little bit. We would get on the treadmill every morning and run together, and she was working on it. Between me and her, we had the social game, we had the brains, and then we were just working on our running, so I think if we were able to stay in the game, by the end we would have got the cardio up and done some damage. Big T, she is someone that I'll hold in my heart forever. I talk to her daily.

So if you had gone into an elimination and won, would you have stayed with Big T?

No matter when, I was picking Big T again. In Double Agents, she got the short end of the straw. No one wanted to be with her, and she started to believe herself that she wasn't good enough. But she is extremely underrated. She's smart, a great swimmer, and strong. So even if it was right before the finals, I was very lucky she picked me and I would have loved to be able to pick her again.

In your EW Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire, you said you were retiring from reality TV. What brought you to that decision?

Once I put that out there, everyone was like, "You must have had a terrible experience." Absolutely not. Survivor and The Challenge both were amazing experiences. But at 28, to be able to do two reality shows, luckily win one of them, I just want to close that chapter. I don't want to be the guy that just waits by the phone for the next call. I just got an assistant principal job, I got my dream job of running a school. I want to help children, especially with special needs. I couldn't pass that up and I can't keep leaving. I was lucky enough to be able to go two years, one year for Survivor and one year for The Challenge, but now that I'm a leader of a school I want to stay there, I want to make differences and now help kids follow their dreams. It's time for me to hang it up. Most people think I'm nuts, but people apply for these shows for their whole life and never get the opportunity, so me hanging it up gives someone else an opportunity that might have not got one. I love my life and I'm done leaving it.

Did you ever consider doing another season of Survivor or The Challenge before you made that decision?

I said, "I'm a one-and-done." I was going to do Survivor and never play again. Even when I won, I was like, "No, I'm done." But then The Challenge hooked me up, and I was a fan of The Challenge forever. So I got the adrenaline from The Challenge, the cool experience from Survivor, and it's definitely a set-in-stone thing. This was always the plan. Before I left, I said, "This is my last go-around. I don't care even if I win or come in last."

the challenge
'The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies'
| Credit: mtv

You lasted all 39 days on Survivor and were taken out by this serious injury on The Challenge, so which was more difficult for you?

I enjoyed the mental struggle of persevering in Survivor because you have to make these decisions and do these challenges while you're starving, while you haven't slept. But The Challenge to me was harder due to the fact that you're not on a clean slate. Survivor, I was dropped on an island with 20 people that no one knew each other. Now when they drop me in The Challenge house, I'm with CT, who's been on probably 20 seasons, with Nelson and Cory, who are best friends in real life, so how can I come in as a newbie and try to break up these alliances? There is so many predetermined alliances, people pregaming where I didn't get the chance to do that because I'm a rookie.

Which was harder to come back from with regard to adjusting to your real life?

It's funny because you always hear these stories of everyone having PTSD from Survivor and The Challenge, which is so weird to me because I didn't really experience that. I got off Survivor and I got off The Challenge, one with an injury, one from starving, and I just knew I was playing a game. Once I got back to real life, I was just so happy to see my fiancée, to see my sister, to see my parents, to see my friends, that I kind of just forgot about it. I can move on very fast. I just was like, "Does everyone want to come over and party? Can I go back to work?" Everyone thought I was nuts. I won a million dollars, and the next day I went right back to teaching.

After that first elimination, how is your relationship with Michaela [Bradshaw] now?

Everyone thought there's this big Survivor alliance going in and I was 100 percent going to work with Survivor, because as a rookie you want numbers. But Michaela and I just never saw eye-to-eye. We even tried to make calls before going on this show, even in quarantine or on the show, I guess we're just… not that I don't like her, I think she's a great person. She's intense, she's awesome, but she's just someone that I just didn't click with. Everyone was like, "You betrayed her." I didn't trust her, and then she came out and said she didn't trust me. Of course when you don't trust someone, you've got to get rid of them. We've talked since and we laughed about it being gameplay, but I think we both would agree that we just are oil and water, and I don't think we get along that well.

How is your health now after your concussion?

It took a little bit, it took probably a month before I felt back to normal and I could go to the gym and do things like that. Now I'm fully back to normal, and I'm lucky to to be where I am, fully healthy and feeling great.

Did you ever find your shorts?

[Laughs] My shorts from that challenge are, I guess, now with the fishes. When I came to I was like, why the hell am I naked?! It is so much fun now to laugh about it. My cast members and all my friends always rip on me about it. If I'm going out, I'm going to go out with a bang and I'm going to go out naked.

Related content:

Episode Recaps

The Challenge
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 37
rating
genre
network

Comments have been disabled on this post