Survivor's John Rocker: I'm Not a Bad Guy
10/13/2014 AT 07:30 PM EDT
John Rocker clearly didn't get the memo.
But it may not have been entirely Rocker's fault. Some of the other contestants were all too aware of his history: In 1998, Rocker made controversial statements about minorities in an interview, causing a scandal that has followed him ever since.
After a slow start to the season, in which "twinnie" Nadiya Anderson and Boston cop Val Collins were voted out, the tribe blindsided Rocker in a dramatic tribal council on Day 8.
Never one to pull punches, Rocker was candid about his ouster – so candid, in fact, that we have removed 29 instances of the F-word.
Wow. This was a textbook example of someone's past coming back to haunt them.
No s–––, Sherlock. I said some things in an interview 15 years ago and I regret them. I've been asked about them over and over again by journalists. Journalists are the ones who made me into a villain over the years. And I got on Survivor and those same damn comments came up again. It's low-hanging fruit at this point; it's been a long time. It's irritating because it was so long ago, and I'm still paying for those comments.
But in Survivor, people look for weaknesses. Those comments from long ago were enough to turn the tide against you.
Listen, every time someone wants to give me [a hard time], they bring up that same interview. It's all been done before. Can't anyone come up with something new? So I wasn't surprised to have them throw it back in my face.
So have you changed since that infamous interview?
People say that I'm racist and homophobic, but I allied with the black woman on my tribe. I allied with the gay guy on my tribe. If I were really a bigot, would I have done that? I didn't give them any reason to think that that's who I am.
So you think it was just gameplay on the part of the other contestants?
No. Natalie was upset because I voted out her sister. Jeremy was upset because I voted out his wife. They wanted revenge. They just used my persona as a reason to talk people into voting me off.
Things got really ugly during the immunity challenge, but I felt that there was some editing involved. What did we miss?
You missed pretty much all of it. Natalie blamed me for voting out her sister. She singled me out and started cussing the hell out of me. She kept going on and on. And then Jeremy started. Then her tribe got all riled up. Vulgarities were being hurled left and right. I was a baseball player for 13 years, so I'm used to having people throw out vulgarities, but Natalie and Nadiya can match any major leaguer with vulgarities. It went on and on.
And you gave it back. I believe you said if Natalie was a man, you'd knock her teeth out. Any regrets?
It was all trash talk. They were giving it to me, and I had to defend myself. I was in a no-win situation. I was gonna look like a big wimp, or I was gonna look like an ass––––.
So do you still hate each other?
[Laughs] Not at all. Nadiya just texted me an hour ago. Natalie is getting a ton of grief on social media because she fired off on me. But we've become friends. And I became friends with Jeremy and Val; I talk to them a lot. We've gotten together in New York. That was the game, but we got over it. I sat with Nadiya and Val in Ponderosa and we talked about how [crappy] our game was.
You were clearly surprised to be voted out. You had a hidden immunity idol in your pocket.
I know. When they started reading the votes, I knew I was in trouble. I think we should have voted out Dale; he was arguably the weakest link. He's 60 years old. So I was shocked when I was voted off.
If your girlfriend Julie's tribe had lost immunity, do you think she would have been voted out instead of you?
Without a doubt. They would have tried to hurt me by voting her out.
So you being voted out might be the best thing to happen to her.
You're right. Now she can play her own game with me gone. She doesn't have to worry about me. I can't hurt her from outside the game.
So you were the third person voted out. Are you sorry you played Survivor?
Not at all. I loved playing. Life is built on experiences. How many cool things can you do? I applied three years ago, and it didn't work out. So they asked me again, but wanted me to bring Julie. She does a little bit of acting and a lot of modeling, so I thought Survivor could be good for her. I made some friends and had a fun experience. What more could I ask for?