AT SEA - MARCH 2: In this handout from the U.S. Coast Guard, Nick Schuyler, a former University of South Florida football player, is lifted aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter after being rescued from a capsized boat March 2, 2009 in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Coast of Florida. According to reports, four men, Schuyler, former South Florida football player William Bleakley, Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper and free-agent defensive lineman Corey Smith left on a fishing trip Saturday morning and did not return. The three other men are still missing. (Photo by Adam Campbell/U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Nick Schuyler
On the one-year anniversary of the tragic boating accident off the coast of Clearwater that left three former football players dead, the lone survivor, former University of South Florida football player Nick Schuyler has written a book about the ordeal.
One of the reasons Schuyler wrote "Not Without Hope" was to "clear all the rumors," he told Matt Lauer in an interview on the Today Show this morning - rumors that suggested drinking or an argument led to the capsizing of the boat the four men were on, and that Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper and free agent NFL defensive lineman Corey Smith simply gave up hope of being saved and let themselves drift out to sea.
"People's motor functions were shutting down, especially Marquis and Corey," recalled Schuyler, "a lot of slurring and swearing. It was the hypothermia, I've never seen them act like that."
Schuyler went on to say that the two didn't simply give up, that Smith was threatening to attack him while he was holding onto Cooper, who had been dead for about half an hour. Schuyler had to make the decision to let Cooper go in order to give Will Bleakley, Schuyler's best friend and former teammate, Cooper's life jacket (Bleakley was only holding onto a cushion).
Schuyler said that soon after, hypothermia claimed Smith. Bleakley then began to get physically sick and foam at the mouth. Schuyler told him that he loved him, then watched him pass.
After 43 hours, Schuyler was rescued. It was the thought of his mother that kept his hope alive.
"I couldn't imaging my mother sitting over a casket, or not even that -- if I was never found," he said.
Officials ruled that the cause of the accident was a bad anchor drop. When the group decided to try to gun the engine to release it, the boat began to take on water and eventually it capsized.
"We were four football players, thinking we were invincible, we thought we'd be able to flip that boat over," Schuyler recalled.
Schuyler now bears a tattoo with the names of his three friends, along with the words: In the hour of adversity be not without hope.