Exclusive: 'Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water' eliminee John Rocker talks (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 10/09/2014
Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water eliminated John Rocker during Wednesday night's second episode of the CBS reality competition's 29th season.
John, a 39-year-old former MLB player from Atlanta, GA, was voted out of his Coyopa tribe on Day 8 at the season's third Tribal Council session. He departed the game with a hidden Immunity Idol in his pocket because he firmly believed his alliance of five guys was going to stick together in voting out Baylor Wilson.
John's girlfriend Julie McGee, a 34-year-old model and owner of a spray-tan business from Atlanta, GA, still remains in the game and is currently competing on the opposing Hunahpu tribe.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, John talked about his Survivor experience and blindside. Below is the first half of his interview. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Did you go into Tribal Council thinking Jaclyn Schultz and Baylor had believed your claim that it was time to vote Dale Wentworth off and they were going to be voting for him, or what was your mindset going into Tribal?
John Rocker: I guess I obviously foolishly thought that was the case. Our tribe, I was with them for the first three weeks and it had not been doing so well at challenges. And not to blow myself here, but I'm a half-decent athlete, certainly the best athlete on that tribe.
And I just assumed, because we had been doing so poorly at the challenges, that as long as Dale was around, I was going to be at least safe for one more Tribal. And I just never thought, you know, I was getting along -- we all got along, all got along well.
Of course there was the stuff going on behind the scenes as the game was being played. I was being deceived and manipulated a little bit, but I was just too dumb to pick up on that.
I thought the alliance was somewhat strong. I knew everyone on the tribe saw our weakness as our poor performance in challenges, and you know, we all talked consistently -- of course Jeff Probst, he pushed us time and time again, you know, like, "Why do you guys f-cking suck so bad?! You have to start winning here or you guys are just going to get picked off like flies here."
It was kind of a point of contention for us, because yeah, it's true, we do have to start f-cking winning. I just never thought in a million years that our poor performance in challenges would [mean] the strongest player versus the oldest player -- the strongest player would get voted off before the oldest player did. So, it was kind of surprising, but you know, they had their reasons and it is what it is.
Reality TV World: Before the voting commenced, Jaclyn made a bunch of Tribal comments where she came across as pretty confident the five-guy alliance was breaking up and one of the men was going home. A lot of viewers thought that was ill-advised and she seemed to be giving you a dumb heads-up that you might be in trouble, but there's another school of thought that she was just trying to convince you that she had believed your trick plan to get out Dale. What did you make of all those comments?
John Rocker: Something in the back of my mind was saying, "Oh, maybe I could be getting played here. I could be getting blindsided." That was definitely going through my mind, but then, you know, I'll say that when you're out there and you're hungry and tired, your brain is not really firing like it should be. I think with a less swimmy head or a less foggy head, I think maybe I'd make a better decision there.
But, you know, certainly the thought did come through my mind. And looking back on everything, I didn't think that on the way to council, I did two interviews that day. And both producers, I mean, were really harping on my idol -- was I going to play? What was I thinking about it? And one of them asked, "Where is your idol?" I said, "It's stashed under logs," or something.
And he was like, "Well, you got to take that and bring it to council." And I'm like, "Eh, I don't even think I need to take it." And he's like, "You're not even going to take it!?" He really went on for about, like, 45 seconds. The fact that I wasn't even going to take it to council, he was like, "Oh, no, I'd...!"
Two hours later, I'm thinking back of that conversation, and I'm like, "Why was he so adamant about me taking my idol to council? Why did he spend five minutes talking about it? Maybe he's trying to tell me something." And sure enough, he was! Because obviously in other interviews, he can hear what's going on, so they were giving subtle hints. It became obvious after the fact.
But just like I said, I thought as long as Dale was there, who was seemingly in challenges our weakest player -- I don't know how much they cut out of the edit, and I didn't mind Dale, I liked Dale fine.
But he's a bit mouthy. I wouldn't say mouthy. He's a bit of a know-it-all. He's a bit bossy. He seemed to take charge almost like an oppressive parent with the rest of the tribe -- "You need to do this; You need to do that."
People kind of got rubbed the wrong way by Dale, him just trying to overtake that fatherly figure aspect within the tribe. I figured with that and also him being the weakest link as far as physically from a challenge standpoint, as long as he was there, I'd have another day to live. But, you know, oh well. It didn't happen that way.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed you making a statement about "actions vs. accusations" in regards to Natalie Anderson's comments after the challenge. Could you elaborate on that a little bit more?
John Rocker: In what context was this?
Reality TV World: You were shown saying that the accusations Natalie was making after the challenge in regards to you being homophobic or racist didn't gel with your actions.
John Rocker: Oh yeah, well, you know, as far as I'm concerned, I just assumed -- I naively thought going into it, "Maybe I can fly under the radar and nobody will know who I am," because you see year after year, the athletes on there never do too well. I think Cliff Robinson was the fifth one voted out last year. Jimmy Johnson was the third one [out of Season 21].
So, the folks with any kind of notable name or recognizable name, they really don't do that well. And stupidly enough, I thought, "Well, maybe they won't recognize me!" Well, obviously, that didn't happen.
And then with the recognition comes the old, "Remember this guy?"
"Oh yeah, he's that guy."
But what's so funny is, and I'll elaborate more on this in just a second, but that was one article written 15 years ago. It was written by a journalist that has a long and rich history of motherf-cking everybody he writes about. I mean the guy is rarely -- I read quite a bit of his stuff.
The latest book he came out with was the sweetness about Walter Payton. I mean, it's an entire book about motherf-cking Walter Payton. I mean, how do you -- A.) the guy is dead, which should be off limits because it's a motherf-cking dead guy. But he's also an American icon.
I mean, he's a motherf-cking American icon and he just dragged up so much stuff. Some of it wasn't even necessarily factual; It was supposition kind of stuff. It was hearsay kind of information, and that's the guy who wrote this article about me.
When that set everything off and the media just descends on my life physically and starts interviewing old classmates and teachers and coaches and minor league teammates -- and not a single one of them ever agreed, never echoed anything, any of the claims.
It was an ambiance that [writer Jeff Pearlman] was trying to write about me. Nobody has ever echoed it, and the reason why nobody ever echoed it is because people that know me, they've seen my actions. They see how I live my life.
There are no actions to echo Jeff Pearlman's accusations, which, I guess, that's probably what I'm alluding to there. And the funny part about that is, at that time the copy was being made, Natalie had never met me. We obviously see each other on the show, but we had never formally sat down and talked or whatever else.
I had variable time to spend with [Jeremy Collins], variable time spending with [Nadiya Anderson], variable time spending with [Val Collins]. I was on Skype last night with Natalie, Nadiya and Drew Christy. They were watching the show in Orlando. I was getting ready to watch the show in LA, and I had about a 45-minute Skype with them. I didn't call them; They called me.
We were just sitting there and we're all good friends now. I was in New York about a month ago, doing something for HBO, and Val and Jeremy came down. Myself, Nadiya, Natalie, Val, and Jeremy all went out for drinks and dinner and we're all good buddies now because now these people know me.
They see how my actions are. They see how my personality is, and they're like, "Alright, yeah. The immediate perception, we couldn't have gotten it [more] wrong. We know this guy now, and yeah. He's our buddy." So that's the long-winded explanation. That's kind of what I was getting at by the actions certainly don't mimic the accusations.
Reality TV World: How big a role do you think those interview comments and the perception they've carried of you all this time played into your vote-off? Do you think you would've made it further in the game without them?
John Rocker: Um, you know, I think the obvious answer is "probably." But then you look back at the history of the game and what I [said] a few minutes ago is that athletes don't do well. People that have any kind of recognizable name, they rarely even make it to the merge. I think Jeff Kent, I think he made it two or three votes past the merge.
But as far as I know, I'm not the historian of Survivorby any means. But I think of all the athletes, of all the recognizable names that have been on the show, he's certainly made it by far the furthest. So I might have been able to squeeze out a couple of other councils, but I don't think I would've had some tremendous showing had I not had that somewhat checkered past, as you will.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with John Rocker.