Richard Sherman faced some formidable opponents during his stellar 11-year career in the National Football League as a dominant "shutdown" cornerback.
But nothing could have prepared him for the unscripted insanity that comes with being a contestant on Fox's new sci-fi reality TV series, "Stars on Mars." Premiering exclusively on Fox today (June 5), the concept for this far-out show is to take 12 "celebronauts" and transport them to a simulated Martian habitat in the barren desert of southern Australia where they must coexist and work together for the sake of survival.
Famed actor and "Star Trek" royalty William Shatner serves as Mission Control, issuing the assignments as contestants vote to cast off one "colonist" per week.
Here's the official synopsis:
"The show will open with the celebrities living together as they live, eat, sleep, strategize and bond with each other in the same space station. During their stay, they will be faced with authentic conditions that simulate life on Mars, and they must use their brains and brawn — or maybe just their stellar social skills — to outlast the competition and claim the title of brightest star in the galaxy. The celebrities will compete in missions and will vote to eliminate one of their crewmates each week, sending them back to Earth.
"Cue the intergalactic alliances and rivalries. 'Stars on Mars' will send these famous rookie space travelers where no one has gone before and reveal who has what it takes to survive life on Mars."
Sherman will be joined by ex-Seahawks teammate Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch, along with comedian Natasha Leggero, "Superbad" actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, "Vanderpump Rules" star Tom Schwartz, singer/songwriter Tinashe, "Real Housewives of Atlanta's" Porsha Williams, actress Tallulah Willis, "Modern Family's" Ariel Winter, pro cyclist Lance Armstrong and a cool RADDOG robo-dog as the habitat's mechanical mascot.
"It definitely took some convincing and a lot of phone calls," Sherman told Space.com about his initial reaction to joining the TV show. "There were a lot of nos before it became yes. But once Marshawn was in and he looked pretty excited about it, I said I'll do it. I I thought, 'At least I'll have you there if nothing else.' They kept everything pretty close to the vest so you didn’t know who else was going to be on it.
"So we flew 30 hours to Adelaide, Australia and then to Coober Pedy on a two-hour flight the next day, and it was a shock initially, but the missions were pretty fun."
Sherman is used to suiting up on Sundays, but slipping on a spacesuit and futuristic leisure wear while hanging out in the habitat took a while to get used to.
"It was different," he said. "There were a lot of cameras everywhere. It was cool getting to know everybody, so that was great. It had been a long time since I slept in a bunk bed, so that was different. Having Marshawn there made it much easier. Lance Armstrong was really cool, and all the people were a joy to be around. The food did take some adjusting and just the rhythm of getting up, putting the suit on, strapping in, going out for the mission, coming back and debriefing."
Due to the secretive nature of the "Star on Mars'" elimination format and Fox not wanting leaks regarding surprises or who's the last person standing, Sherman could only generalize about some of the tasks the crew was confronted with.
"The missions were things you need to survive on Mars or in space. You've got to find food, make sure you take care of your habitat, and any emergencies that happen, you have to discover a way to navigate them. The elimination part was more like realizing you're low on rations, you need to figure out who's critical going forward, and you've got to figure out how to work as a team to get things done."
William Shatner lends a commanding presence to the show, and it's impossible to not make a "Star Trek" connection as contestants convene with him for mission orders.
"I didn't watch a ton of 'Star Trek' growing up but obviously I know who Shatner is," Sherman said. "He was fantastic in his role. He sent us a bunch of messages, and he's the one who briefed us on most of our missions. It really felt cool to be a part of something with him, so I really enjoyed that part."
The small, remote settlement of Coober Pedy where the series was filmed held many rewards for Sherman — as well as the extreme awareness of things that slither and crawl.
"It was a small opal-mining town and just a different environment," he recalled. "The people were fantastic and really nice. The staff working on the show was fantastic, the people you met in the town were great. We stayed in this cave hotel, which was literally a hotel dug into a cave, which was interesting.
"Marshawn swore a spider was going to come out of the roof and get him. He slept with the lights on that night. You know, every spider and snake in Australia is deadly. It was an adjustment every step of the way. Once we got to the habitat it was very cool, with a lot of technology, bunkbeds and a nice kitchen and a gym."
When filming was complete and Sherman returned to the U.S., he came away from the experience with at least one definite revelation.
"I might not be built for reality TV," he said. "I can do challenges and I can do TV and sports and I can probably do movies. But reality TV is a bit of a challenge for me."
"Stars on Mars" airs on Fox starting on June 5 at 8 p.m., and it airs on Hulu the next day.