The Challenge All Stars 3 Player Preview: MJ Garrett
Challenge All Stars has been an amazing revelation as we have seen players brought back from the past who we never thought we’d see again; MJ Garrett is one of them. A former D1 college wide receiver, MJ was a Challenge Champion who became one of the first-ever Dads to compete on the Challenge. Ironically, the uber-athlete left the franchise right before it physically ramped up a few notches. Watching MJ return for All Stars 2 and win his first legit Final is a reminder of why these All Star seasons are special; they give both players and fans something they probably never expected to happen. MJ is going from a surprise returnee to now the reigning champ. Will he continue to thrive, or will he struggle with a massive target on his back?
MJ’s Cheat Sheet (TLDR Version)
Introducing MJ: After MJ’s college football career at Vanderbilt ended, he transitioned to Reality TV, debuting on the Real World Philadelphia, where he had a famous bromance with Landon Lueck. He transitioned onto the Challenge, winning the Gauntlet 2 as part of a stacked Rookie team. While MJ was a strong player, he didn’t stand out on the Gauntlet 2 mainly due to Alton and Landon looking like superheroes in every daily challenge/elimination.
MJ came back for two more seasons, hilariously, both as alternates. He joined the Rookie Team on Gauntlet 3 following Tyrie’s departure. His stay wasn’t long as Frank Roessler pulled off a massive upset elimination win against him in Ankle Breaker. We wouldn’t see him again till the Duel 2. Alongside Nehemiah, MJ replaced CT & Adam following their tussle/DQ. MJ immediately fit in among the top players on the men’s side. The version of MJ we saw on the Duel 2 was a different character as he was a new father. He won two eliminations during the season, taking out Ryan and Dunbar, ultimately coming up short to Brad in the second to last elimination of the season. It looked like MJ was going to fade into obscurity from there…
Until All Stars came round, MJ returned for the spin-off’s second season, back with his classic golden locks, his kids now grown to be teenagers, and him still in great shape. He cruised through the early part of the game as part of the Brad/Darrell/Cohutta/Derrick alliance. MJ’s game shifted slightly after linking up with Jonna during the partner portion as he let her take the lead for their duo. Together, the two of them worked with excellent chemistry, won the mini-final, never saw an elimination, and in the end, pulled out the Championship with a bit of luck on their side in terms of how the Final was formatted. Nonetheless, MJ came back after over a decade and won his 2nd Championship, his first in a non-team season.
Player Vitals & Stats
MJ Garrett: 41 Years Old, 6'3, 200 lbs**, 3 Seasons, 2–2 Elimination Record, 1x Champion (Gauntlet 2), 1x Finalist, 1 All Star Season, 1x All Star Champion, 1x All Star Finalist
Skills and Physical Strength:
A former collegiate wide-receiver, MJ is big, fast, and has good hand-eye coordination. MJ’s size has always been his biggest asset. During heights challenges where players have to stand on top of buildings or a moving car and grab an object from afar, MJ has a much easier time because he doesn’t have to reach out much. MJ doesn’t win many daily challenges, yet, he never looks bad in any and generally performs well across the board. He is a good swimmer, eater, sprinter, and importantly, he has a fun demeanor. Even though MJ does not win many daily challenges, his status within the house is close to the top because nobody wants to face someone as big and mobile as he is in a headbanger elimination.
His cardio could use some improvement. He and Jonna fell behind Nehemiah/Melinda & Darrell/Janelle a pretty hefty amount during Part 1 of the All Stars 2 Final.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: His social game is simple. MJ acts as a loyal number towards his existing alliances and friendships (Derrick, Darrell, Brad) and doesn’t rock the boat much. The game comes easy when you’re 6’3 because nobody wants to anger a literal sleeping giant. MJ has become incredibly close with his All Star 2 partner Jonna, and I expect her to manage his alliances, which will be vital to his success. Strategically, MJ might need to be proactive and make some big plays because I’m not sure if he can keep up with certain men in the Final.
Mentally, MJ is average to below average in puzzles; Jonna was the one who took the lead for them last season.
Eliminations & Winning Potential:
It has been over a decade since we last saw MJ compete in the elimination arena. You have to like MJ’s chance based on size and athleticism if the elimination is a pure headbanger. Then again, we saw MJ get outworked by strong/savvier competitors in Frank Roessler on the Gauntlet 3 and Brad on the Duel 2. We have witnessed big guys like MJ and Zach Nichols get beat in these physical eliminations partly because they’re used to being the best athletes; they think they can use brute force to get their way. That doesn’t always work on the Challenge. I personally believe becoming older and wiser has made MJ into a better competitor, as he’s less likely to get outsmarted these days. However, if we see him with a bit of an ego coming off a Championship, part of me worries whether we will see the Gauntlet 3 guy who got outworked.
Can MJ win? Well, he won last season, so we should look at him as a contender. Is he the favorite? I wouldn’t say so. The performance he and Jonna put up last season during Part 1 of the All Stars 2 Final was not impressive, to say the least. Fortunately, they were clutch when it mattered most, except they wouldn’t have won if the Final was about totality. MJ is a good player whose athleticism, charm, and skill-set should get him back to the Final. Do I think he’s beating more balanced/cardio-based players in that Final? Not sure about that. Regardless, the fact a strong player and the literal returning champ might not be a Top 3 or even Top 5 favorite to win this season speaks volumes about the cast we have.