Monday, January 12, 2015


Former NFL player Rob Konrad met with the media on Monday to discuss his harrowing
and heroic nine-mile swim to safety after falling out of his boat while fishing last Wednesday.
Konrad said he was stung by jellyfish and saw a shark circling him on a journey that lasted
an incredible 16 hours. This has all the makings of a made-for-television movie.

Here are the top 5 candidates to play Rob Konrad in the movie:

Ryan Lochte. Not the brightest bulb on the tree, but Lochte has star power and the sex
appeal that would drive the female demographic to theatres. Great endurance in the pool
should translate well to the Atlantic ocean.

Tim Tebow. Not sure he can swim, but the folks at the University of Florida are still convinced
he can walk on water. This could be the break out role the former Heisman Trophy-winning QB
has been looking for.

Brian Bosworth. He looks younger than his 50-years and has a good amount of acting
experience and the camera loves him as much as he loves the camera. The former
Oklahoma star linebacker is rugged, tough, and has experience getting knocked on his
butt (Bo Jackson anyone?) so falling out of boat should come easy to him.

Chris Long. The son of Howie has Hollywood good looks and the 'edge' casting directors are
looking for in a survival-type of movie. Long resembles Konrad a bit and certainly has the

Rob Gronkowski. The Gronk has star power to fit this role to a T. The film might set a
record for the number of cue cards issued to a man in a leading role, but Gronk should
get top billing in the Rob Konrad story. He's a beast.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


The story of Rob Konrad swimming nine miles to shore has drawn a lot of skepticism and
traffic on all the social media networks. Some of us believe the former NFL player channeled
his inner Louis Zamperini and didn't break during his 10-12 hour swim through cold, rough,
choppy, and shark-infested waters, while others believe Konrad made the entire thing up.

The story piqued my interest because of my experience as an open water swimmer which
brings a myriad of mental and physical challenges during the course of an event. I have crossed
the Hudson River (3.1 miles) several times and completed a 5-mile event at the age of 45 in
a river just outside of Maryland.

One of the reasons I enjoy open water swimming is because I see it as a battle of survival. No,
it's not falling off a boat like Konrad allegedly did, but completing a five-mile race in cloudy,
choppy waters is an adrenaline rush that leaves you with an incredible natural high. To know
you swam that far in the elements with virtually no support leaves you feeling as though you
really accomplished something and if you ever did fell into a situation like Konrad, you'd have
confidence knowing that you can swim rather than sink.

I see open water swimming as more of a test of will more than a demonstration of skill. Most
people can swim reasonably well, but open water endurance swimming tests your mind and
your heart.

You can spend hours doing laps in a pool, but it doesn't come close to swimming in a body
of open  water. There are no lanes to guide you, lines to hold onto, and in many cases, the
nearest volunteer you see is about a mile away. You don't know what lurks below you and
every  twig or branch you swim into causes your heart to race even more.

If you run into trouble, pass out, or start to drown, there isn't anybody around who will
be able to save you in time. It's all you against the elements of the open water. All you hear
are the sounds of the rushing, choppy water and the noises you make trying to find
the energy to barrel through the water that is sometimes so dirty, you can't see your hand
a foot in front of your face.

A million things go through your mind in a five-mile swim, I'm sure that number doubled
during Konrad's nine-mile journey. I often said, "What the hell am I doing?" which was
soon followed by "If I drown, I wonder how long it will take for somebody to find me?"

Konrad spent nearly his entire life as an elite athlete in the most demanding of sports. He
is wired differently than most of us. He endured tremendous pain and challenges to excel
at Syracuse and survive in the NFL for six years. I don't know Konrad personally, but I
it's reasonably to assume that he was mentally tough and someone who possessed a high-
pain threshold. Anybody who can be a stud player at the Division I-level and become
a second-round draft pick isn't the type of guy to wilt in the face of danger.

Kornad was an elite athlete just like Zamperini who survived 47 days on a small raft
in the ocean then endured two years of mental and physical abuse in a Japanese POW camp.
Zamperini and Kornad could've been wired just the same.

In a battle of survival, we've seen people do amazing things and overcome tremendous odds.
I'm hoping Konrad's story rings true and he is a man of incredible will and strength, not
another fraud in this world looking for another 15-minutes of fame.

I'm keeping an open mind about Konrad's open water swim. I'm hoping he does all of us

Friday, January 9, 2015


In this critic-filled, never got-in-the-ring to compete world we live in, it's easy to be skeptical
of Rob Konrad's story that he swam nine miles in cold, choppy, and perhaps, shark-infested
waters to reach safety.

We ask how a former NFL player with no competitive swimming background can fight
through exhaustion, hypothermia, not to mention the lack of food and water to make it
to shore at 4 a.m.

I guess after we got all got fooled by the likes of Lance Armstrong, Manti' Te'o, and
the Summer of 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa hit missiles into orbit at a
record rate, calling B.S. on Konrad's story is a natural reaction.

As of Friday night, Konrad, who starred at Syracuse as a bruising fullback before playing
in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, was in a West Palm Beach hospital being treated
for hypothermia. Much of the rest of the country was trying to figure out if what he did
was superhuman or just a super made up story.

I believe him.

I believe in the human will and the battle to survive. I believe in the power of the mind
and the determination to live. I read the book, "Unbroken" and saw the movie. A former
Olympic runner goes into the service and not only survives a plane crash, but spends 47
days at sea and withstands two years of physical and mental torture in a Japanese prison

Louis Zamperini proved that if "you can take it, you can make it."

What is so different in Konrad's story? Why don't people think he had could have an
incredible will to live just like Zamperini? Maybe Konrad read 'Unbroken' and saw the
movie and was inspired to stay alive and believed that he could. Maybe he believed in

Like Zamperini, Konrad was an elite athlete nearly his entire life. He was a beast who
excelled at Syracuse and was good enough to be a second-round draft choice of the Dolphins.
Konrad survived in the NFL for six years, nearly twice the average span of a player in
the league.

He had to be mentally tough to make it to the NFL. He had to play through pain and do
what he had to do to make it for that long in the dog-eat-dog world of the NFL. Konrad
was exceptional at what he did. He was far from average when it came to talent, toughness,
and iron will.

With that said, shouldn't we give him the benefit of the doubt? If you've seen the courage
and will of a double-amputee complete an Ironman, then you know the impossible is

Zamperini used the power of his mind and believed that he could survive more than
a month at sea without much food and water. He had faith that God would help him
get through being beaten and humiliated in a POW camp. He refused to give in and
give up.

Apparently, Konrad did too. He wasn't ready to die. He didn't want his family and loved
ones to experience the gut-wrenching pain associated with death and a loss.

His story may sound too ground to be true, but I choose to believe him. I believe there
are people like Zamperini who are resilient, courageous, and indefatigable.

I believe in Rob Konrad.


Almost as soon as Diana Nyad completed her 112-mile swim from Cuba to Florida two years
ago, the marathon swimming community came out in full force and raised doubts about the
64-year-olds journey and whether or not it was legit.

So, when news broke Friday morning that former NFL player Rob Konrad swam nine miles to
shore in Florida after falling off his boat, there were more than enough haters who think there is
something fishy to Konrad's story. For an untrained swimmer to go nine miles in rough, choppy
50-degrees waters in the middle of the night, would fall into the 'superhuman' category.

However, we do know this about the former fullback out of Syracuse and the last player to
wear the famed number 44 at the place where Jim Brown, Floyd Little and Ernie Davis
wore it: the guy is tough, determined, resilient, and smart. Is it possible that he could've
survived nearly 10 hours in shark-infested waters with no food, water, and more than a
touch of hypothermia? Yes.

First accounts of breaking news are often filled with misinformation and exaggerations of the
truth. It happens. Remember all the incorrect facts that came out of Newtown and 9/11? I prefer
to hear from Konrad and get all the facts before rushing to judgment.

Konrad is a clean-cut, intelligent, all-American type who doesn't appear to be the kind of
guy who would make up a story like this. Unless, he is gunning for a reality show and flat-out
misses the limelight he captured at Syracuse and with the Miami Dolphins, I will give him the
benefit of the doubt, I think.

I just find it strange that he would be fishing by himself  when nightfall is just around the
corner. Athletes and former athletes tend to do things with friends or in groups. I mean,
if you caught a huge fish, you'd probably want someone to be there to see it. Maybe I'm
wrong because in this day of selfie-obsession, all it takes is one click of your iPhone and
you have a great story to last a lifetime.

Then there is the distance, nine miles. That is a long, long way for someone who didn't
train for it. I finished a five-mile open water swim in a river after training and there
were people in kayaks with water if you needed it. The swim was a bear. Now, think
about doubling that distance in real cold salt water, with no food or water, at night, with
no compass, and without much training. IT...WOULD...BE...NEXT...TO...IMPOSSIBLE.

Nine miles.

However, we have learned that the mind is a powerful thing, especially from the book
and movie, "Unbroken". Louie Zamperini survived 47 days on a raft with very little
food or water, then was battered and beaten for two years in a prisoner of war camp.

The one thing Zamperini and Kornad have in common is they were elite athletes for
much of their lives. Konrad flourished and survived in the most mentally and physically
demanding sport: football. He had an iron will and the mental toughness to play
in the NFL. He endured physical punishment and trained him mind to overcome

There is a good chance this story is NOT too good to be true and Konrad refused to
be 'unbroken.'  But then again....

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Whether you liked Stuart Scott as a sportscaster is irrelevant. We live in a world where people
judge and make snap decisions about others based on how they look, dress, talk, and act even
though they don't take two minutes to find out for themselves what a person is really like.

It's sad, but that's just how most people in our society operate.

Not everybody liked Scott or his schtick on ESPN. Some people like to get their sports
without the "boo-yeahs", "bams", and pillows that are always cooler on the other side.
There isn't a person who walked this earth or worked in television that's universally adored.
Not even Stuart Scott. Using his own words, he had "his haters".

However, nearly everyone should admire Scott for the path he blazed, the doors he opened,
his passion for his job, love for his daughters, but most of all, we should respect and remember
Scott because he never gave up and refused to quit living as cancer was ravaging his body.

As Tim Robbins' character, Andy Dufrane,  said in Shawshank Redemption, "you can either
get busy living or get busy dying."

That quote came to mind when I saw video of Scott doing mixed martials arts and working
out hard just hours after going through brutal chemotherapy treatments. It would've been
so easy for him to say, "I'm going home to lay on the couch all day", but he didn't.

Instead, Scott put on his workout gear and pounded heavy bags and a sparring partner until
he squeezed every ounce of energy he had in his cancer-ravaged body. He wanted to live as
he was clearly dying. Like Jimmy Valvano before him, Scott never gave up. He never, ever
gave up.

I met Stuart Scott when we were at UNC majoring in Radio, Television, and Movie
Production taking a few of the same courses in 1985. As my friends can tell you, I never
forget a face and I never forgot Scott. He was a different kind of cat. I got into the sports
television industry like Scott and ran into him covering events along the way. Scott always
made like he remembered me even though he probably didn't.

Scott dared to dream and dared to be different. He went against the grain and his style didn't
always sit well with the white-establishment in television. But Scott was a man of conviction
and he believed in himself and his style. Nobody at ESPN will ever forget him.

Life was short before Stuart Scott passed at the age of 49, but for all those who fall in the
same age range, it got a whole lot shorter today. You can be young, on top of your profession,
and living the dream like Scott was, and then boom. Your life begins to fall apart.

Tomorrow is not promised. The death of Scott today really made that hit home. But Scott
showed us that even when you're struggling or worse yet, battling cancer and facing death,
we should keep up the fight and keep living every single day.