Last year, when Tampa heavyweights Brad and Monica Culpepper appeared together on the CBS reality show Survivor: Blood vs. Water, neither spouse was new to the spotlight.
Brad, 45, is a former defensive tackle who played nine seasons in the NFL, most notably for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s now best known as one half of the “tenacious” ad-savvy law firm Culpepper Kurland. A former Florida Gator and All-American football star, Culpepper earned his law degree from the University of Florida when he retired from pro football 14 years ago.
Monica, 43, is a mother of three who parlayed her role as a former NFL wife into a stint two years ago on Survivor: One World. When executives approached her about returning in 2013, this time with her husband for the show’s Blood vs. Water season, she saw it as an opportunity to redeem herself –– and that she did. Brad was ousted 14 days into the game, but his hard-bodied wife lasted a grueling 39 days and walked away with a cool $100,000 second-place prize.
The Red Hot C-Peppers met at the University of Florida. They’ve been married for 22 years and live on Davis Islands with their three children, Rex, Judge and Honor. Since their memorable turns on Survivor, viewers have wondered whether Brad, a take-no-prisoners fan favorite, would return to the show. The Culpeppers won’t say, but apparently host Jeff Probst has no qualms about leaking spoilers. In a June 2014 interview with entertainment website HITFIX.com, Probst revealed that he’s “going to have fun with Culpepper coming back.”
Where they spend the most time together: Dad’s Stadium at Plant High School. Brad: “I’ve been hands on in almost every sport my kids have done up until high school, so it’s nice to sit in the shaded stands and watch them flourish.”
Where they get those bodies: Kickboxing at B.A. Warrior Training Center. Monica: “My trainer [Olando Rivera] is a five-time world champion. I was his first client when he retired. As an overworked mom I knew I had a short window of time to get in some cardio. After I started doing it Brad was like, ‘You look fantastic, how do I sign up?’ Now we’re both hooked.”
What they do before bed: Walk their dog around Davis Islands. Brad: “It’s our time to break down the day.”
How they spend lazy Sundays: Anchored off Beer Can Island. Monica: “I’ll make sandwiches for the kids and bring all the magazines I never have time to read. We’ll throw out a blanket, bring the dog and just hang.”
Where they go for an adventure: Alafia River State Park. Brad: “It’s as close as you’re going to get to mountain biking in Florida.” Monica: “There’s a crystal clear swimming hole at the end of the trail where I’ve never seen a single person. It’s amazing.”
What they ate back in the day: Pizza at The Market On 7th in Ybor. Brad: “They had the best pizza. We’d end up there after every Bucs game. We even had our own spot.” Monica: “In the back left corner.”
Where the staff knows their order: 220 East. Monica: “Their field of fruit salad with salmon isn’t on the menu anymore, but they’ll make it for you if you ask. They also have really good broccoli.”
Where Brad bulked up for the Bucs: The Tahitian Inn. Brad: “It was like my kitchen when I was playing football. I’d get a milkshake and an omelette for lunch.” Monica: “You’d walk in and see guys like George Steinbrenner, Dick Greco and Lou Piniella. Deals were done in that place.”
Where they go instead of McDonald’s: The Oxford Exchange. Monica: “It’s owned by the Casper family, who own a bunch of McDonald’s, so the fries are basically McDonald’s French fries.”
Where their kids love to hang: Skatepark of Tampa. Monica: “So many great, hot, sweaty days have been spent there.”
What their boys loved better than Disney World: Playing at Brandon Ford. Brad: “The GM would unlock the doors and let the kids climb in and out of trucks for hours. I promised him that when my oldest son turned 16 I’d buy a new truck from the dealership. ” Monica: “Rex had to make straight As to get that truck.”
Where they go to spruce up the yard: Bloom Garden Shop. Monica: “Every single flower around our house was planted by Brad.” Brad: “I got a cocktail citrus tree from Bloom that grows oranges, grapefruits, tangelos, limes, tangerines and lemons.”
Where they’re treated like football royalty: Shula’s Steak House. Monica: “Back when Brad played for the Bucs the official day off was Tuesday, so on Monday nights we’d go to Don Shula’s place.” Brad: “For every sack you got, the restaurant would buy you and your wife dinner.”
Where they buy sporting goods: Dan’s Sports II. Brad: “It’s where all the major leaguers go. A guy named Walt and his wife run it out of a strip mall on Nebraska. Walt has the inside pitch on everything.”
Where they antique: MarketPlace Interiors and Magnolia Inspiring Interiors. Monica: “We found a dried cactus table at MarketPlace and we got all our bedding from Magnolia.”
Where they get takeout: Gogos Greek Grill. Monica: “I cook seven nights a week. If I get behind, I’ll go to Gogos. They’re fast and they have the best Greek salad with potato salad.”
Where they get BBQ: The Smoke Shack. Monica: “Last Christmas I had them make me 10 pounds of brisket to add to our dinner. They make the best brisket.”
Who keeps their cars running: Davis Auto Body & Mechanical. Brad: “Unfortunately I’m there more often than I’d like.”
Where they get outdoor gear: Tampa Bay Outfitters. Monica: “When we were getting ready to go on Survivor, [owner] Egan Anderson made sure we were good to go.”