Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…
Name: Monica Culpepper
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Brad’s Wife
Previous Season: “Survivor: One World” – fifth person eliminated
Current Residence: Tampa, Florida
Occupation: Former NFL Wife, Homemaker
Name: Brad Culpepper
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Monica’s Husband
Current Residence: Tampa, Florida
Occupation: Attorney and Retired NFL Player. Played for the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Chicago Bears.
Personal Claim to Fame: My 21-year marriage.
Pet Peeves: Hypocrisy and long goodbyes.
Three Words to Describe You: Tenacious, independent, and forward-thinking.
Gordon Holmes: No offense, Brad. But I’m so sick of these pro football players turned lawyers being cast on this show.
Brad Culpepper: (Laughs) Yeah, I used to be a caveman, now I’m a lawyer. Actually, I got my law degree while I was playing. I’ve spent 12 years as an attorney, but right now I’m getting the butterflies like I’m about to head out on Sunday morning.
Monica Culpepper: Against the Miami Dolphins, through the tunnel. Brad hasn’t competed…
Brad: Well, I’ve competed higher than this level.
Gordon: There is no higher level than “Survivor.”
Monica: (Laughs) Exactly.
Brad: This is as close as I can get to the NFL level.
Gordon: He’s smart, he’s in good shape, he’s had two very lucrative careers. What do you see in this guy?
Monica: There’s a target on him. He’s my shield.
Brad: She’s going to dump me for John Cochran.
Monica: Right. We’ve got lots of strategies and lots of ideas. Every single day we need to realize we’re a target. And every single day we need to figure out how they will help themselves by voting someone else off.
Brad: This is a game about one winner. You have to convince someone that it’s in their best interest to keep me or it’s in their best interest to get rid of someone else. That’s the game. We’re not sure on how they’re going to split us up. But, we’re used to living with each other and there are loved ones who are not. We’re one person, we can finish each other sentences. I can definitely give her information and run scenarios by her and get truthful responses.
Monica: But this time I’m the wily veteran.
Brad: You can play as many “Survivors” as you want, I guarantee I’m going to catch more fish, build more fire, and whatever else.
Monica: He grew up on an island in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico that you can only get to by boat. He’s an Eagle Scout.
Brad: Yeah, but that’s only a third of the game.
Monica: Yeah, and the social part and the strategic part I can help you with. And I’m hoping the people out there realize he is a workhorse. I want them to ride him to their goal. Do I think a jury is going to give a retired NFL player the prize? No. The only chance we have of winning at a final three is if we’re playing with Osama or Hitler.
Gordon: You’re out of luck on that one. I think I’d notice if they were walking around.
Monica: So, the chances of the jury giving it to us are slim.
Brad: There are different scenarios, the only reason John Cochran won was because he had a shield. He had the Three Amigos at the merge. The conversation should be, you need me at the merge because you need someone to deflect the arrows off of you. But there are a lot of athletic people here. It’s the John Cochrans we have to look out for.
Gordon: I’m seeing a few “One World” folks in this cast. Does that work to your advantage?
Monica: On my season those girls had an alliance from the start. I worked my tail off, cooked chickens, did all the fire, boiled everyone’s undergarments while they laid in the sun. We have a tribal swap and I landed on the tribe with four men and three women, but I had Colton. Colton came to me on day three and said, “I’m quitting the game. I need a mom. What can you do?” I said, “Do you have a boyfriend?” He said, “Yes, the love of my life, Caleb.” And I said, “One day you guys are going to adopt children and they’re going to watch and see what you did on ‘Survivor.’ They’re going to know what dad did. Do you want them to see you quit?”
Brad: So you talked him out of quitting.
Gordon: Oh, so it’s your fault.
Brad: For a while.
Monica: Yeah, bad move by me. I talked a lot of people out of quitting. But that Monica is back in Samoa.
Gordon: Now you’re a bad ass house of fire.
Monica: No doubt. But then we’ve got three men vs. three women and Colton.
Brad: He backstabbed her.
Monica: I thought Colton was on my side. He said I was the strongest person on our tribe and he felt the most threatened by me so it was time to get me off. And he was happy in knowing that they were going to lose every immunity because he knew they’d vote the women off first.
Brad: Of course, the next day he’s out.
Monica: Who lines up at a challenge and doesn’t care if they win or lose?
Brad: This is a new day. It’s not going to be that way this time.
Gordon: So what’s your play if Colton is on your tribe?
Brad: My kneejerk reaction is; I see Colton here, I want to get him off first. But, I’m smarter than that. The guy said some stupid things that he’d want to take back.
Monica: And I guarantee that he’s back because he wants to show that he’s changed.
Brad: While he said some things that were inflammatory, that’s almost outside of the game. Within the game he’s a fantastic player. He’s very shrewd, he got a bunch of men to give immunity up. The guy is persuasive.
Monica: Eighteen other people here do not know the storm that is coming at them with Colton. He is the most paranoid person you’ve ever met.
Brad: If everyone wants to get him off first, I’m all for it. But my plan would be to bury the hatchet with him and say, “Colton, you’re a great player. Yesterday was yesterday.” And he’ll probably apologize, he’s not stupid. He needs us because she can validate him to other people. Everyone here knows his reputation and is probably leery of him.
Monica: I can validate that he’s changed.
Brad: I think we can play much better with him than we can without.
Gordon: Cochran and Dawn (Meehan) did something similar where people didn’t think they’d trust each other based on their past history in “South Pacific.”
Brad: It’s the same thing.
Monica: Nobody here is going to think we’re together. He was deplorable out there and the worst to me. I’ll be able to look in his eyes and see if he’s changed.
Gordon: What are your thoughts on the rest of the cast?
Brad: We’ve got two returning winners.
Monica: I’m a bit star-struck with Tina here. Tina Wesson is the one that allows mothers to still play the game, she is unbelievable. She’s the kind of person that Colton would go with because she’s motherly.
Brad: You’ve got Tyson who’s good at challenges. Hayden who’s very athletic and he’s got the social skills. He won “Big Brother,” which is no small feat.
Gordon: It’s no “Survivor.”
Brad: No, it’s not.
Monica: Gervase, I remember him from season one. We’ll tell him he’s the wily veteran of the game.
Brad: The pirate Rupert is here.
Monica: He’s played a hundred days. He’ll sell himself as being loyal. He makes an alliance of four and he never wavers.
Brad: This game is going to be funky. You’ve got the new-school players and then a Rupert, a Tina, a Gervase. They didn’t even have idols. It’s going to be an interesting blend.
Gordon: Has she given you any tips on how to deal with the conditions?
Brad: I hope it is hot, I hope it rains. There’s a saying in the NFL, “Anyone can good on Sunday when they’re healthy.” First game of the year, everyone plays well. How well do you play on week fifteen, week sixteen? Same thing with “Survivor.” If it’s a sunny day and cool at night and you’re catching fish, everyone’s going to play well. But if it rains and nobody eats and everyone’s miserable, the cream will rise to the top. I want the shelter to fall down. I want people to be miserable.
Gordon: What is it like when you guys fight?
Monica: We don’t fight. I know that’s strange.
Brad: When we’re tired at the end of the day because we’ve got three kids and we’re trying to get someone to do their homework, it’s frustrating. The only time she and I get elevated is in an exasperated, tired kind of a situation.
Monica: Which we’re going to have every day out here.
Brad: No, I don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything I do at work is small. Nothing I do with my kids is small. I’ll put a bet on you now, I guarantee we’re the last couple that will be filmed having a big argument this season.
Gordon: What strategies have you guys been discussing?
Monica: You may see something that’s never been done before on “Survivor.” We might pitch that the whoever got us to the final three wins the game.
Brad: To cement your legacy in this game, you have to do something that nobody else has ever done. I’m going to make millions of dollars from this show if I can last a long time. My exposure…
Monica: Would be ten times that for his law practice.
Brad: I would lose the battle and win the war.
Monica: And at our stage in life what gives you pleasure is doing nice things for other people. $600,000 after taxes isn’t going to make or break us. But it’s going to make someone else’s life.
Brad: And we’re not going to win anyway.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes
Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.