New Gridiron 'Bachelor' Is Drafted

04/05/2004 at 05:39 PM EDT

That's one way to score.

Jesse Palmer, a 25-year-old backup quarterback for the New York Giants, has just finished an altogether different kind of game, starring in the fifth edition of ABC's "The Bachelor," which kicks off Wednesday.

As usual, the show will aim to pair Palmer with the perfect female mate, as he winnows the playing field from 25 contestants to 1 -- a woman that he now refers to as "the missus," PEOPLE reports in its latest issue.

But it wasn't easy. During the six-week shoot, Palmer met with all the women for at least one date before deciding who continued and who went home. At the conclusion of the show's first episode, only 15 women make the cut.

The NFL draft was never so difficult, but as Palmer observed, "My chances of walking away with a concussion weren't as great."

Along the way Palmer received advice -- both solicited and not -- from a variety of sources, the Associated Press reports. His brother, a tight end at Notre Dame, told him to avoid words like "chemistry," and Giants teammate Amani Toomer said that under no circumstances should he cry on camera.

"I'll probably get tied to a goal post sometime in the next two months," Palmer concedes.

Some of the most interesting advice will undoubtedly come from one of the contestants -- a close friend of Palmer's who was deposited into the group as a spy. In a new twist for "The Bachelor," the spy will provide Palmer with the inside line on his female companions.

Filming for the show has wrapped, and even though the young quarterback can't say much about which gal he picked until the series airs, by all indications he was pretty pumped from the experience. "I was treated like a rock star and went on dates I'll probably never have again. It exceeded my expectations 1,000-fold," he told PEOPLE.

As to his newfound relationship, all Palmer will say is, "I did meet someone very special."

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