'Survivor: Blood vs. Water': Brad Culpepper on Redemption Island Animosity and Being Blindsided

The 44-year-old attorney and retired NFL player talks to THR after his elimination.
Brad Culpepper

Brad Culpepper's time on Survivor: Blood vs. Water came to an end Wednesday night.

After being blindsided by his alliance mates in a previous tribal council, the 44-year-old attorney and retired NFL player was sent to Redemption Island, where he lost the duel and was sent packing.

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On Thursday, he talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his time on the island.

You were such a strong, strategic player. Were you disappointed at leaving so early on in the game?

As long as [my wife] Monica is still in the game, I feel like I'm still in the game. So she's there representing me.

You encouraged her to burn not one but two clues to the hidden immunity idol. Do you still think that was still the right call?

I guess it remains to be seen. It's protected her until now. Obviously, we have to see how she does and if she needs protection down the lie. To me, if was a smart decision based on the fact that John [Cody, who had previously been given two clues] was blindsided. … He had information that not everybody had. They didn't show much of this on TV, but Monica [at first] started trying to rip it up. She was having a hard time, so I told her to burn it instead of ripping it up. She obviously felt fairly good about her position. If she felt she was in a bad position, she would have kept the clue no matter what.

Were you surprised at all the anger directed toward you, particularly from Candice Cody and Marissa Peterson, during the Redemption Island duels?

It was surprising. Unfortunately, the two with the littlest amount of information were the loudest. I never spent any time with Candice; I didn't know her at all. She was getting her information from Marissa, who I spent very little time with. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but not everybody in the tribe felt the same as Marissa. There wasn't a big movement to get me eliminated very quickly. That was never the plan. I was voted out at the last minute; it was an eleventh-hour job by Caleb [Bankston, who declared his intentions to vote out Brad in the midst of a heated tribal council].

Were you surprised at what Caleb did?

Absolutely, that was not expected. I'm upset that I didn't take him aside earlier that day and say, "You're fine. There are discussion that have nothing do with you. You're safe; we're not planning to vote you out." He caught everybody by surprise; whether it was smart or not remains to be seen. He was playing a smart game under the radar, in a wallflower-type position. By making a big move, he took away his shield. I was shielding the tribe. I was getting all the vitriol and bad comments, and he eliminated that. And he projected himself out there as a major player early in the game. He's no longer in the background.

Even though Candice was so upset with you, John embraced you after you were eliminated. Did you make up during your time on Redemption Island?

We made up before [Candice] left. John and I have a great relationship; he understands that it's a game. … And [Candice and I] hugged it out. But sure, as a player, she was angry about the way things happened.

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Do you think your comments on the beach on day one had anything to do with your early ouster [where some castaways thought Culpepper implied that he would throw a challenge if it benefited his wife]?

No. If you look at my actions in the challenges … [you'll see that] I played as hard as I could so the tribe would win. Once we lost, I was trying to make sure the moves I was making would not adversely affect her or jeopardize my own position.

Had you and Monica talked strategy? For example, what would have happened if you had gotten to the end with her?

We would not have voted each other out. The only scenario would be if it was a final four type of deal and do we really want to go into the final [tribal council] together?

Would you play again if asked?

I'd never play with a loved one again. I felt very handicapped having to play with Monica. I had not only worry about myself but another person. If it's another Blood vs. Water, no way, but if I didn't have to worry about anyone on another tribe, I could stick it to them.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS.