On Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on the mothership, Survivor returns to CBS. The original reality show -- seriously, think how many TV shows it spawned -- enters its 27th season (!) and in will feature former NFL and Florida Gators star Brad Culpepper as one of the contestants.
Interestingly this season will also feature Brad's wife Monica, who was a contestant in Survivor: One World before being tossed from the island early. More interestingly, the theme of this season is Survivor: Blood Vs. Water -- contestants will be paired with friends and family members and the big catch here is that they'll have to decide whether or not to betray said friends and family members by leaving them on Redemption Island.
In advance of Wednesday night's premiere, EOF caught up with Culpepper to ask him how the NFL prepped him for life on Survivor, if he could justify betraying his wife of two decades on the show, his favorite Steve Spurrier story, what he thinks about the concussion settlement (he's now a lawyer) and who of his former teammates he'd bring on Survivor with him.
Eye on Football: First things first: how will life as a former NFL player help you to prepare for the rigors of Survivor?
Brad Culpepper: From what I have seen and heard, 39 days on a remote island pales in comparison to preseason two-a-day practices in the Florida heat as a defensive tackle. Both my wife and I are native Floridians thus humidity, heat and rain are our friends. My old coach and friend Rod Marinelli used to say "embrace misery," so as long as we're all running in mud, reflections on my previous hardships will pay dividends.
EOF: Does your wife Monica having been on the show before give you guys a distinct advantage as opposed to her joining you on a return to the show?
BC: Because Monica was blindsided too early in her prior appearance, she and I are heading into this season with our eyes wide open and our paranoia on high alert. She was basically voted off for being too conscientious and a physical threat. While it will be hard for us to play down our physical abilities, we will have more of a "live and let die" attitude. (which is very different from how we conduct our "real" lives).
EOF: Can you reasonably make a decision to leave your wife on Redemption Island? Is making a run at a million bucks worth months in the doghouse?
BC: My No. 1 priority is to protect Monica and give her a real opportunity to play this game. She never had a fighting chance on Survivor 24. The very last thing I would ever want is to make a decision or move that would jeopardize her survivor life. No, I will never write her name down for elimination, nor leave her on redemption island.
EOF: What do you see as your No. 1 challenge when it comes to adapting to Survivor?
BC: Playing 18 years of competitive football leaves many scars and stories. I hope my knees, low back and shoulders can withstand the constant rigors of competition and sleeping (or trying to sleep) in the dirt. I hope my stories are not met with yawns and eye rolls.
EOF: Random, but what's your best Steve Spurrier story?
BC: Steve arrived at the University of Florida in the spring of 1990. Before his first Orange and Blue Spring game he explained how the winning team was to be rewarded. On the giant white board he wrote in big letters "steak and schrimps" for the winners and "beans" for the losers. I leaned over to my fellow All-American Kirk Kirkpatrick and said, "Well, while the football program at UF has gone downhill since Coach Spurrier's 1966 team sure looks like our education has improved."
EOF: What were your thoughts on the NFL concussion lawsuit?
BC: The settlement takes causation out as an issue in regards to cognitive disabilities. This is a good thing. How quickly and efficiently the NFL pays remains to be seen but on its face the agreement looks like it will help those in need. I hope I never receive a dime of the concussion settlement.
EOF: If you couldn't take your wife with you, pick one former teammate to take with you on Survivor?
BC: Warren Sapp the QB Killa ... I would be assured someone on the island is disliked more than me. And, if we ran out of food ... mmmm big fat juicy roasted filet.
Watch "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" on CBS at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday night. Photo via Monty Brinton of CBS.