Nick Schuyler, Will Bleakley, Corey Smith, Marquis Cooper
On February 28, 2009, four friends set sail for a day of fishing off the Florida coast. When they didn't return that night, the Coast Guard launched a massive search effort early the next morning despite stormy weather and violent waves. Forty-three hours later, the boat was found—but three lives had been lost. Only one man, Nick Schuyler, lived to tell the harrowing tale of his friends' fight for life.

Nick, a personal trainer, had befriended NFL players Corey Smith and Marquis Cooper at his gym. The three quickly bonded over intense workouts and lifting weights. Corey, the youngest of six children, had just finished his season with the Detroit Lions.

Marquis was married with a 3-year-old daughter he adored. An experienced fisherman, he often took friends out on his 21-foot boat. Set to leave for an off-season training camp with the Oakland Raiders, Marquis wanted to take his friends on one last trip to his favorite fishing spot, 70 miles off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

When another friend dropped out of the trip at the last minute, Nick invited his best friend, Will Bleakley, to join them. Inseparable since their days playing football at the University of South Florida, Nick was excited to have Will along for the day.

No one could have foreseen the tragedy that lurked ahead.

FROM: The Sole Survivor of the NFL Boating Tragedy
Published on March 03, 2010

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