Brad Culpepper played Survivor in the same style that he played defense in the NFL over a nine-year career: Fast and furious. He burst onto the scene and instantly became one of the most memorable new players this season. On Wednesday night's episode of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water," Brad's demise was completed when he was eliminated from the game following a Duel loss to John and Laura Morett. But his fall from grace had started a few weeks earlier (In case you missed it, here is the full recap of last night's Episode 6).
Brash and confident, Brad was a big personality on Survivor, one that oozed an aura of "go big or go home." His personality quickly put him into a leadership position on his tribe, forming an early alliance with four other men: Caleb, Hayden, Vytas and John. It seemed to be a tight alliance...until it wasn't.
Moments before a Tribal Council where the five-guy alliance had decided to vote out Ciera, Brad switched things up and got his allies to instead blindside John. John had entrusted Brad with a clue to the hidden Idol, but Brad grew suspicious of John and saw him as a threat. His ability to quickly turn on John ended up costing him, because shortly thereafter, Brad himself was blindsided when Caleb and Vytas ultimately voted him out.
He survived one Duel, but then narrowly lost a puzzle challenge to - who else - John, the man he had sent to Redemption Island. Call it karma or whatever you'd like, Brad was definitely served his just desserts.
Brad is now out of the game, but did he actually accomplish what he had set out to do? And I sneak in a burning NFL question. Here is my exclusive chat with Brad Culpepper:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Hey Brad, how are you?
Brad Culpepper: Doing good. It was tough, but Monica's in there and you know my math: One equals two (laughs).
Tom Santilli: So last night you made the comment about how you wanted to be a shield for Monica, but that you perhaps were an anchor. I understand the shield part of that metaphor, but what did you mean that you were the anchor?
Brad Culpepper: It was a crazy show. They kept throwing curve balls at us right and left. Redemption Island just became a free-for-all for the jilted, Bitter Bettys to just come throw vitriol, at what turned out to be me! The turning point in my mind in how I had to play the game in order to protect Monica, was when Rachel was voted out. That wasn't my decision, that was pretty much Vytas. Yet Tyson stands up and says, hey Mr. Football guy, I see what you did, I'm going to get you back. Well, immediately I'm thinking, oh my God, if he's in an alliance with Monica he may cut that alliance because of what he thinks happened over here. But it didn't happen the way they're portraying it. That's when I started thinking, man, I have to get rid of this five-guy (alliance) because clearly Monica isn't in a relationship with John's wife, because she's on Redemption Island. Unfortunately we kept losing the challenges. But I can't keep losing people that she could potentially be connected to, because she's my number one. She's my number one goal, she's ahead of me. I'm number two. All of a sudden I'm taking the brunt and the blame for everything that is happening here and I may be jeopardizing Monica on her tribe. So that's what I meant when I said I was like an anchor. I'm not necessarily sure it was my fault. It seems like a lady that I didn't spend any time with at all and a lady that I spent very little time with had their opinions, but unfortunately they were the loudest.
Tom Santilli: Your obviously referring to Marissa and Candice, both of whom had very little time with you directly in the game. In their exit interviews when we chatted, they both sort of agreed that you were a nice guy deep down and they had no ill will, but also that your strong personality and ego don't allow for anyone elses opinion when you are around. Do you agree with their assessment or do you dismiss it because of the source?
Brad Culpepper: Both. I mean, I'm glad you get it. I mean I've done a lot of interviews today and most of them tend to take whatever was said earlier as gospel, which is kind of crazy. I mean, what do you say when a kindergartener says I'm going to beat you up, do you respond to that? I will say this: There was not a single plan or a single vote that I received prior to that 11th hour, last-minute move by Caleb. If I was a tyrant, or so opinionated, or a bully, there would have been many conversations about getting rid of the tyrant. And there would have been many votes that would have gone my way. That didn't happen. Had I been the way in which some people are trying to portray me, they would have been trying to get rid of me a long time ago.
Tom Santilli: Watching things back on television, is there anything that has surprised you now that you were able to see how others were approaching and playing the game?
Brad Culpepper: Just how little they show. Unfortunately with the format, they have to show all of the Redemption Island stuff. But we had so much fun on our tribe. We all actually really liked each other. It's surprising how little they're able to show of camp life and what's really happening. Unfortunately they show a lot of the loudest people and the loudest people were incorrect. When I got on Redemption Island, I opened up the floor for everyone to talk. To a person, they were all glowing with their thoughts about me. Now that didn't make the air, but that's when I said, did you listen to what (all of the rest of the tribe) said? Everybody was like, he was great, we miss him already, he cooked everything, cleaned everything, caught everything. He was so nice, we laughed all night long. Girls and guys were all saying that. So it's disappointing that the viewers didn't see any of that, but maybe that's not the drama that they want.
Tom Santilli: A lot of players, when they leave the show, they claim they have no regrets as to how they played. But do you have any regrets, in regards to not really having a chance to play the game with your wife?
Brad Culpepper: Regrets? I don't really live my life based on regrets. Are there decisions that in hindsight I would make? Absolutely. Monday morning quarterbacking is pretty easy. But I have no regrets. Monica is still in it. My number one was to give Monica a chance to play the game. And she's in it, she's in a great position and I'm very happy for her. Number two would have been to make the merge and to be with Monica at some point. That didn't happen, but my number one is still there. But as long as Monica is playing the game, my number one priority is still happening. I'm tickled pink that she's still there and she's still driving. I like her position right now.
Tom Santilli: You made some interesting observations about this season during your CBS.com day-after interview (view it to the top left of this column) in regards to the differences between playing the game with your spouse versus playing the game with, say, your brother or mother. Explain your thoughts.
Brad Culpepper: I was definitely handicapped, moreso than someone else. If I was playing the game with my brother - and I do have a brother - it would have been much different. I wouldn't have gotten rid of John, I wouldn't have necessarily worried about him as much. When I'm playing with my spouse, I love her more than I love myself. She's my number one, I'm number two. And I get it, but it was a bit of a handicap. Look at Rupert. He didn't do anything wrong and yet he's the first one out because he substituted himself for his wife. If Monica had gone to Redemption Island, I had already told everyone, I'm going in for her. Please treat her on this tribe as if she were me. As you've seen so far, there have been no switches. If your cousin or your brother is down there, it's a little bit different. It was a handicap for me. Maybe it wouldn't be for other married couples but it definitely was for me.
Tom Santilli: When I spoke with Monica after her last season, she had said - not in a bad way - but that she was always seen in your shadow and that Survivor was her chance to shine. She never got the chance her last time out to really do so. So now that you are out of the game, seeing last night's episode and seeing Monica make a big game move to further herself, how does it feel watching her really own it this time and come into her own?
Brad Culpepper: You hit the nail on the button, man. I'm enjoying your interview more than most I've had today. No seriously, you get it. Not many are getting it, and it's frustrating for me. Either they're not married or they don't understand my relationship with her. My number one goal was to give her a chance to play the game. She never really got the chance to play the game in One World. She was immediately behind the eight ball. She wasn't a part of the initial girl alliance, she then got switched up and Colton immediately targeted her. I was like, man, she is so smart, she's so dynamic, it's unfortunate that that didn't come through. She is my number one goal. Although that may have jeopardized me on my tribe, it was worth it because of what is happening now. She is making plays, she looks awesome and I couldn't be happier. I mean yeah, if I could write the script I'd still be there with her, but this is what the next best would be. Now, I'm still nervous for her, there are a lot of couples still left in the game. If she merges with more couples than not, she could become a target because she's an island. There are just so many facets to this game, it's crazy.
Tom Santilli: My last question is a bit off-the-wall but I had to ask. I live in Detroit, so I was around back in the day when you would terrorize the Detroit Lions. As a former defensive player in the NFL, what are your thoughts on the Lions controversial defenseman, Ndamukong Suh? Is he the kind of guy you would have liked to play with?
Brad Culpepper: First of all, Mark Mayhew (Lions current General Manager) is one of my good friends. He's doing a great job and I'm actually a Detroit fan because of that. I would have loved to play with Ndamukong Suh. I played with a guy who was not dissimilar. A guy named Warren Sapp. The rules have changed though. Make no mistake, Warren would have had to change his game a little bit to fit within the rules now. Ndamukong Suh has got to adjust. You know, the fines are getting ridiculous. But I would much rather have to turn down a guy than have to turn him up. He's the type of guy you've got to turn down, but that's a real good problem to have. When you have to turn a guy up, it's impossible. So I would have played with him, absolutely.
For even more, be sure to watch Brad's day after interview to the upper left of this column. Also be sure to subscribe to this column (above by my name) to receive email alerts of new postings and you'll want to follow me on Twitter too, @tomsantilli, and at tomsantilli.com as well!
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