Thursday night on CBS, NFL player Alan Ball was eliminated on “Survivor” after a tribe switch resulted in the Heroes, Healers and Hustlers being mixed up. (Read our “Survivor” 35 Episode 4 recap.) Alan’s new team included fellow Hero Ashley Nolan, Healers Joe Mena and Desi Williams, and Hustler Devon Pinto. At tribal council, Joe played a hidden immunity idol which negated the votes cast against him, and so Alan was sent packing.
We recently spoke with the former Dallas Cowboys player about his elimination and about his infamous #IdolStripSearch from the Season 35 premiere. Listen to Alan Ball’s podcast interview above, or read the transcript version below.
Gold Derby: Okay Alan, so you were eliminated unfortunately last night on “Survivor,” because sneaky Joe played that Hidden Immunity Idol and got you out. First off, did you guys have any idea he was holding that thing in his pocket? Was that even a remote possibility?
Alan Ball: You know, I think it crossed Ashley’s mind the most. It crossed my mind but I think at that point in the game I think levels of tolerance for Joe were so low in terms of what we could deal with. I think no matter if he had the Idol or not, we had to go with the fact that, “Hopefully he doesn’t, we gotta vote for him anyway.” And I think that’s where we were at. I don’t think I thought he had it, and Ashley was kind of in her mind. Devon definitely didn’t think he had it, and fortunate enough for his game he did have it and I ended up going home because of it.
GD: Why do you think that Joe and Desi ended up voting for you instead of voting for Ashley? Joe actually said openly they were going to vote Ashley out because she was the weakest link.
AB: Yeah, I don’t think Desi had a choice, that’s one. And two, I think Joe saw me as a threat. I think Joe was intimidated by me. I think that for Joe to operate the way he wants to operate he needs a sense of control in the tribe and I think that in the tribe, for me to be gone he can kind of gain that sense of control, especially because he had Desi under his wing and I don’t know if that’s gonna change now that he doesn’t have the Idol. Devon is kind of slow play. Devon kind of rides the waves of his game right now so he’s not too aggressive or assertive. And then Ashley, he controlled Ashley by just the sense of fear, I guess, if she’s remaining by herself. So I think me being by myself is a complete different story from Ashley being by herself. So I think that’s probably what he was seeing and that probably was his goal in terms of getting me out.
GD: And speaking of Devon, his vote got taken away from him. Do you think if he did get to vote would he have voted with you and Ashley to get out Joe or would he join up with the other guys?
AB: Oh absolutely, there’s no question in my mind. One day we’ll have to find out and I might be wrong but there’s no question in my mind I think Devon was with me and Ashley in terms of getting rid of Joe. Like I said, he was on everyone’s nerves I think, and it was pretty obvious that everyone wanted him to go.
GD: And your parting words after you were eliminated, you wanted to give credit to Joe and Desi because they played a heck of a game. What specifically was it that they did that impressed you?
AB: Actually, sometimes you have to learn how to lose, and I lost. I don’t think… if we can give credit, the credit I can give him is finding the Idol. That saved his game. I don’t know if that’s luck and I don’t know if that’s a skill. So that to me is, “Hey, they obviously did something I didn’t do and they found the Idol. I didn’t find one so they played a better game than me ‘cause they’re still there and I’m not.” So you gotta give credit when the credit is due. Like I said, I don’t respect anything they did about their game, but he found an Idol, so there has to be some line of credit given to him regardless of how you look at it, whether it’s luck, whether it was a skill, some line of credit.
GD: Is that something you learned by playing in the NFL? Learning how to lose graciously?
AB: Yeah, you know what, I think it’s moreso instead of losing graciously I think it’s moreso the fact that when you play the game on Sundays, if you go out there and you play to best of your ability, you do all you can, you leave it all out there, you can walk away if you lose to say, “You know what? They just a better game today. I can rest in the fact that I did everything I could but they were the better team today.” And when you look at it, he played obviously a better game because he found an Idol. So he put more effort into doing that, whatever he did to find it. Whatever journey he had to get it, he got it. So I can say that I’m not displeased with the game I played. I had a blast playing the game I played. I enjoyed every minute of it. No matter how you view it, I had a good time. I left it all out there and I had a lot more in the tank. If I can regret anything, that’s probably what I regret the most is not pushing myself as far as I could and like I said, when you walk away knowing you did the best you could, how can you be mad about that?
GD: And we have to talk about the Idol Strip Search from Episode 1.
GD: I think you may be right about Ashley and JP having the power couple and by kind of instigating the whole strip search thing, it was kind of an evil genius move that you did by shining the spotlight on this couple. Walk us through that moment, because it’s definitely one of the more talked about moments.
AB: Yeah, well thank you. A lot of people don’t respect it, the move that I made. Some people look at it as obnoxious and any other, I’ve heard every angle. But for me, I definitely sensed something about the two. I definitely think they had a secret that they were keeping from everyone else in the tribe. And for me my thing is, initially, I don’t think I would have been as eager to throw them out there like I did if they hadn’t led me and everyone else to believe, or me and Ben to believe that there was a core four. If you say it’s a core four I feel like we should all be equal partners. But I sensed that they were trying to grow stronger within our four, which it… you’re stronger within our four what makes you stronger within our tribe. So I wanted to nip that in the bud. So for me it was kind of like, “I need to make everybody aware of what’s going on. If they’re not paying attention they need to be paying attention. And regardless of what’s going on, you guys are gonna stop immediately once I draw some attention to it.” So as things got rolling, it’s kind of like, “Well, let me throw a little more sugar on top and say you got an Idol. Okay, well let me throw a little bit more and say you’re a power couple.” If you give an artist a pen they’re gonna create (laughs). They gave me a blank slate and I just rolled with it and I think it went from an idea in my head to me actually using it for the betterment of my game, and that’s kind of what I did and I had to roll with it at the punch. When he got naked, I didn’t ask him to do that. I didn’t expect it to go that far. I really didn’t. But hey, if you’re getting naked, you’re getting naked for a reason. Now why? Is it because you’re trying to hid something or is it because you’re really trying to clear your name? It could be viewed either way. Some people don’t go to that extreme if they’re not lying, but you go to that extreme it says something. So it depends on how you view it and I just wanted everybody in the tribe to see “Hey, there’s something going on.”
GD: And when you’re watching it all play out on TV did you feel vindicated like, “I was right about JP and Ashley, they did have a special bond?”
AB: I haven’t felt vindicated just yet. It’s kinda like I’m getting there and it’s like, “Well I feel better now that they’re showing…” ‘cause at first they made it seem like I was just bugging out, and like I was just wigging out. Which is cool, it didn’t bother me ‘cause I know it’s hard to fit 24 hours into an hour episode, or 72 hours into an hour episode. So it’s kind of like they had me looking like I was wigging out but after it got going it was like, “Okay, they’re showing a little bit in pieces that hey, these two are closer. Alan was seeing something.” So hopefully it comes full circle eventually and people see that I wasn’t completely just out of my mind and I was actually playing the game.
GD: Let’s say the tribes didn’t get mixed up this week and that all of you Heroes had stuck together. Who do you think was the next one to go home between Chrissy, Ben, JP, Ashley or you? Who do you think was heading home next?
AB: I think it was JP. I know me and Ben had had talks about who he wanted to keep in the game and who he wanted to get rid of and I think, and they don’t show it enough, and hopefully it’ll come into light that I think Ben and Chrissy were gaining more trust for me because they were seeing what I was saying about JP and Ashley. So me and Ben had had talks about who was better. Chrissy didn’t want Ashley there. Chrissy didn’t really like Ashley. Chrissy wanted JP gone, Ben wanted JP gone I believe, and we talked about it. If you watch it JP’s addition to the game is not really there. So it’s questions about who he is as a game player, and I think that is what… he’s great around camp, he adds a lot, but it’s just questions about his gameplay, and I think people were kind of questioning that and we’ll see how it plays out if they continue to question that but those were those questions that may have rose and that’s kind of why I think JP was probably the next one out if we had stayed together.
GD: Very interesting. So last question here. Of all the people left, I think there’s 14 people left, who are you personally rooting for to win the $1 million?
AB: Oh my god, Ben, and that’s a hands down. No question. I definitely want to see Ben at the end if I could have it my way I would say I wanna see the Final 2 to be Ben and Chrissy if I had it my way. But hands down I’m pulling for Ben, hands down no doubt. Like I said, I got to spend a lot of time with that guy and I think he’s an amazing person, character-wise. Everybody plays the game differently, you gotta leave the game where it is. You gotta do what you gotta do to get the win, and I believe in that. But outside of that I think character-wise I just think he’s a great guy. From what he’s told me he’s a good husband, good father. I definitely want to see him win.
GD: Awesome, well thanks for chatting with us, Alan. We will maybe see you at the reunion show in a couple months.
AB: Sounds good man, thanks for having me.
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