Exclusive: Brad Culpepper talks about his 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' experience (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 10/24/2013
Survivor: Blood vs. Water eliminated "loved one" and newbie castaway Brad Culpepper from the game after he lost the season's fifth Redemption Island duel during Wednesday night's sixth episode of the CBS reality series' 27th edition.
Brad -- a 44-year-old attorney and retired NFL player from Tampa, FL, who is the husband of returning player Monica Culpepper -- lost the duel to returning player Laura Morett, a 43-year-old construction company co-owner from Salem, OR, and "loved one" John Cody, a 30-year-old physician and army orthopedic surgery resident from Washington, D.C., who's the husband of veteran player Candice Cody.
Brad had originally been voted out of the game by his Tadhana tribe after Caleb Bankston announced at Tribal Council he was writing his name down. Caleb, although in an alliance with Brad, lost trust in him and feared Brad was targeting him because his loved one, Colton Cumbie, had already gone home. As for Monica, she's still playing the game and competing for the million dollar prize.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Brad talked about his Survivor: Blood vs. Water experience. Below is the first half of his interview. Check back with us on Friday for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode made it look like the duel was really close and John literally only beat you by a number or two. Was that actually the case or was that just the editing?
Brad Culpepper: Yeah, he beat me by about four or five, really, it wasn't really my stronghold. I'd rather have a bench-press contest or something. (Laughs) But having to balance -- I mean, my knees are 44, I've had six knee surgeries on my one knee and I've had two back surgeries. So being nimble on a balance beam and trying to untie knots with my fingers is probably not my strong point. So, it is what it is. I did my best and John won.
Reality TV World: So did the fact you lost to John -- the guy you had betrayed and voted off -- make it sting a little bit more or no?
Brad Culpepper: John and I were still -- we were friends. I mean, it was a little bit awkward with [John's wife Candice Cody] at Redemption Island when I first got there, but John and I struck it up pretty well. And then when Candice went home, we spent two full days together there and really yucked it up, throwing the football and catching fish and eating and belly-ache laughing.
So no, John's quite the competitor, you know, he understood that my reasoning for blindsiding him didn't have to do with me. It had to do with protecting Monica and not jeopardizing her position in her tribe, because John's loved one wasn't over there. The tribe before John, I was getting the blame for [Rachel Foulger], and it wasn't really my decision to vote her out.
And yet [Tyson Apostol] was standing up, saying, "Mr. Football Guy over there, I see what's happening!" So it kind of donned on me right then, it was like, "God, everybody in Monica's tribe is blaming me for whoever goes out." And so, I was real nervous on sending somebody out who she potentially could've been connected to.
I had no communication with Monica. They never lost. They never sent anybody home. So I didn't know who or what she was connected to, but I thought, "Tyson, obviously, doesn't like me. He's probably not going to like Monica, and I really don't want to make someone else upset over there to jeopardize her position."
Reality TV World: It seemed like you were completely blindsided when Caleb announced he was going to vote for you at Tribal Council. Was that actually the case? Had you not envisioned turning on John and announcing that John had been a threat because his loved one was no longer in the game could make Caleb worried he was going to be next given his loved one had also just left the game? And you had kind of also been telling Caleb he was a decoy target already.
Brad Culpepper: Yeah, the way they edited that was a little bit different. I don't think Caleb mentioned that. He was not planning on voting me before he went into Tribal. He got very nervous as Tribal went on. [Jeff Probst] was pestering me with questions, and I probably spoke up too much or too honestly, because obviously it scared Caleb into changing his opinion.
And my mistake was not really pulling Caleb aside earlier and assuring him that, "Buddy, I'm not voting you home. There may have been discussions, but that's not happening. We're voting one of the girls out." It was a very shrewd move by him, and yes, I was very surprised about that and so was everybody. I mean, you could tell by the expressions -- nobody expected that.
It was very shrewd. I don't know how smart it was. It remains to be seen because he was playing a very low key under-the-radar game to that point. Everybody was a little bit taking him for granted, which is probably a smart way to playSurvivor. I can't do that obviously, for who I am, I kind of owned who I am. But he was doing a good job of that.
But as soon as that went down, our tribe knew he was a major player and he all of a sudden, he got rid of me -- who potentially could have been the shield for everyone. I was taking all the blame, you know, at Redemption Island. And I think everybody liked the fact that everybody was blaming me. But he got rid of the shield and he put himself out there.
Because when I went to Redemption Island, the first thing I said was, "Hey, that guy over there in the funny boots, he's a player! This is what happened last night. It was a very shrewd move. I don't know how smart it is, but don't sleep on Caleb -- he's playing the game and he's playing hard and understand that."
And I think it still remains to be seen. We'll see how far he gets. Playing Survivor to win the game, you got to make some big moves. There's no doubt about it. But the same things that can help you win the game can also help you lose the game. And we'll see what happens.
Reality TV World: So do you think Caleb would have still turned on you if you had decided to have Hayden Moss or Vytas Baskauskas as the decoy target? What do you think was the key factor there in making Caleb decide to turn on you?
Brad Culpepper: I should've just -- he went in and I talked to Vytas since then as well, and he's like, "I took him for granted too. I should've really assured [Caleb] that there may have been conversation, but [Brad] was not politicking for you to go out," which may have been the case.
Because I really was worried about Monica. I didn't want to get rid of [Ciera Eastin] because I didn't know if Monica was working with Laura Morett. You have no idea because they never voted anybody out. But Vytas and I spent a lot of time talking.
They didn't show any of this, but we at least came to the agreement, like, "Okay, Caleb is a free agent. We think we can control him at the merge and it'd be good to have him along." Vytas was like, "God, I should've gone to him too! I should've just gone to him and said, 'We're still in. We're still good.'"
If there were plans on voting me out, I never got a single vote until that last second. And everybody was surprised. The girls, you know, who knows what they were doing, but they were on the outs at that point. They were thrilled to death to have a lifeline that Caleb had just kind of given them and everybody was really surprised. So no, I wouldn't have thrown anybody else as the scapegoat.
And again, remember, this game is -- it's easy to Monday morning quarterback, but while it's happening, it's so difficult, especially when you throw in your loved one. I mean, it's like 3-D chess.
I was playing against somebody, you know, my wife, I put before myself. I think many of the others were playing as brothers or cousins or what have you, parents, and if you're playing Survivor against that, you're putting yourself first and them second. I was putting my wife No. 1...
When you have that [bond], that's the way you feel, and that's the way I felt. She was my No. 1, and I was No. 2. And it was affecting my opinion. Obviously if I play Survivor 26 or 24, I would play much different. But playing [season] 27, where I've got my loved one on the other side, it just made it much more difficult for me to have a clear understanding of what I really wanted to do.
Above is the first half of Brad's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us on Friday for the concluding portion.