05/06/2011 at 07:00 AM EDT
Former NFL player Steve Wright's athletic past would seem to make him a perfect candidate to weather the grueling conditions on Survivor, but on Day 31, the 51-year-old's body had had enough.
Wright lost the four-way duel on Redemption Island and became the third member of this season's Jury.
Now at home in Huntington Beach, Calif., the former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle opens up to PEOPLE about dealing with the elements, how his faith got him through the season, and all about "crazy" Phillip.
You looked completely physically drained during the duel.My big body just needed more nutrition than I was getting and the night I ended up at Redemption Island, there was no room in the shelter. Thank God it wasn't raining because I just slept on the beach on the rocks. You just are a zombie. You are just drained in every aspect – emotionally, physically, and mentally. It's like, 'Give me a break – I can't throw a ball to break some plates?' It was pretty sad to watch.
Did you ever play up your "weakness" for strategy?No. I wear my feeling on my sleeve and if I was saying that I was feeling it, I was feeling it. But I'd also get out of it pretty quick; it just depends on when it was. It's an emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster the whole time you're out there. One minute you're starving and the next you are saying, 'Okay, I'm just not going to eat today.' And you just deal with it and get over it. It's pretty amazing just keeping the faith and setting short term goals and getting through it.
Does faith play a large role this season?God's been a big part of my life and I attribute everything to God. Julie had walked away from God and was going through a really terrible time with her divorce and the foreclosure. Mike and I just spent time talking to her and she re-dedicated her life so it was a pretty big topic out there. Plus lying around all day and night, you really get in to what your soul is all about when you're around each other 24/7. We were going through some pretty crazy and difficult times together and having faith just really helps a lot so we talked about it.
Phillip alluded to being in on the joke that he is "crazy". Do you believe that?Any great actor couldn't act it 24/7 for a month. The real you is going to come out sooner or later and its just really exposing him for who he really is. I highly doubt that he was a special agent or anything like that. I called him "crazy" and all of a sudden he thought that that meant the N-word. I just think he's mentally and emotionally unstable and I think Jeff did a good job exposing it. I've gotten great response from my family, friends, and teammates. The guy is who he is. I think he's just a few bricks short of a whole load. He's a bit loony.
Does anyone from Redemption Island have a chance to win?I think there's a huge chance. But I just want any of them to come to their senses and take care of Rob or get Grant – I always call him the "one-man wrecking crew." He's just a huge threat. I think anybody has a fair chance but they have to make a monstrous, bold move here at the end or its just going to be the writing on the wall.