Years after dubbing himself as professional basketball's most dominant center, Shaquille O'Neal takes on dominant athletes in other sports in a competition series premiering on Tuesday night on ABC.
In the premiere of "Shaq VS," the 7-foot-1-inch NBA star, who has never played organized football, will quarterback a team in a seven-on-seven game, with two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger quarterbacking the other team.
O'Neal prepared for tonight's episode by training for a week under the tutelage of Charlie Batch, Roethlisberger's backup quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Later episodes will have O'Neal play against the Olympic gold medal-winning beach volleyball team of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor; box 10-time world champion Oscar De La Hoya; swim against 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps; play tennis against 11-time grand slam singles champion Serena Williams; and compete against St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols in a home run hitting contest.
Shaquille O'Neal holds a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey presented to him by two boys as he is introduced to the Cleveland media at the Cavaliers' practice facility in Independence Ohio July 2, 2009.(Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)
O'Neal will be given an advantage in several of the events in an attempt to increase their competitiveness.
O'Neal said he is doing the series because "I represent the male bravado couch potato."
"I don't really consider myself one of those salad-eater, elite athletes," O'Neal said in an interview during ABC's portion of there cent Television Critics Association summer press tour. "I'm just a regular guy with a lot of heart and determination that thinks he can do anything."
O'Neal said if he does win a challenge, it will probably be "because it was handicapped anyway."
"I'm not doing this to show anybody up," said O'Neal, who was acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade from the Phoenix Suns this summer and said he may retire if the team wins this season's NBA championship.
O'Neal said he has no fear of injury participating in the series.
"Most of the time, I'm just training, so I don't see how I can be hurt training," O'Neal said.
Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry said late last month that he was "looking forward to seeing him do all this stuff."
"We talked through things to make sure no one would get hurt," Ferry said. "It's all in good fun. It's good for the NBA. He enjoys doing this stuff."
When he boxes De La Hoya, who stands 5 feet 10, O'Neal said he will wear headgear and is "not going to go all out."
"I may give it to him once or twice. I know he may give it to me once or twice, but it's not going to be an all-out heavyweight brawl," said O'Neal, whose listed weight of 325 pounds is more than double De La Hoya's final 145-pound fighting weight. Source: Xinhua