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Brad Culpepper fights for 'Survivor' life

Brad Culpepper talks to his wife, Monica, as she watches him ready for the Redemption Island challenge on Survivor.
Brad Culpepper talks to his wife, Monica, as she watches him ready for the Redemption Island challenge on Survivor.
Published Oct. 17, 2013

We didn't realize he was giving us a spoiler but when Brad Culpepper grumbled in our preview interview this week that "I can do puzzles," maybe he was thinking of the sweet moment when he bested Candice on Redemption Island and lived to fight another day on Survivor.

Culpepper's alliance of five men had been dubbed the Brad News Bears for their inability to win an immunity challenge, especially if there was a puzzle involved. So imagine the fans' glee to see Brad facing Candice and John — a married couple who passionately blame him and his wife, Monica, for dumping them on Redemption Island. The three were stuck on that last pitstop to taking that slow boat to Loserville.

Brad Culpepper can take being booed. He was the sack leader that helped transform the "Yuccaneers" to a dominant NFL team in the late '90s. But he has been dismayed at the hate spewed his way by Survivor fans and players who have cast him as a villain. He's been cursed out and flipped the bird at tribal meet-ups because he's viewed as a mastermind of a jock alliance that cut loose his close ally John.

In a tense battle between Culpepper and the Cody couple, with the loser going home, the challenge was … a puzzle! Times two! They had to take apart a crate and assemble a bridge, which was a puzzle itself since each step fit a certain hole. Then on the way back the steps became the pieces of a puzzle to be assembled on a board. John finshed first, only to watch his wife and Brad Culpepper race to a squeaker of a finish with Culpepper popping the last piece in place on the buzzer. We're guessing there won't be any spooning for warmth on Redemption Island after this.

Later, Culpepper's old tribe finally won an immunity challenge thanks to their excellent ring-toss skills and they chose as a reward a steak cookout instead of a stash of fishing gear that would have fed them for more than just one night. Gotta love the newbies.

Back on the tribe of Survivor alums, Laura Morett gets the boot because her mad puzzle skills are thought to be just the ticket needed to finally get Brad Culpepper off the island.

Next week, we are teased, there will be "a shakeup." That could be a merge of the two teams or a game of Red Rover where players have to switch sides. Considering there are loved ones on each team, you never know what alliances will end up being formed.