Athlete displays surreal will to survive

Kelvin Duley II

Kelvin Duley II

I think we’ve finally encountered the real life Aquaman. Yes, I’m talking about the king of Atlantis. His name isn’t Arthur Curry, though. Former NFL fullback Rob Konrad fell off his 36-foot recreational boat off the Florida Coast. Konrad, 38, then swam nine miles to shore. That’s approximately 16 hours of battling hypothermia, high waves, darkness, sharks and jellyfish. Honestly, I think it would have been safe to assume he was a dead man at sea. But he survived!

Take a second or two to soak all that in.

Now, his boat was on autopilot and once he fell off, the boat continued to coast further into the ocean. With no lifejacket and panic setting in, Konrad’s life would hang at the mercy of the ocean. Konrad even recalls being circled by a shark and being bitten by a jellyfish. If that’s not enough, Konrad described the frustration that was seeing a Coast Guard helicopter hover above him without spotting him — the moment when he realized he was on his own.

From there, Konrad continued to fight against all odds. If you ask me, he made it to safety through pure luck and determination — not to mention you have to be in tip-top shape. Konrad, who retired from the NFL in 2005, is far removed from those chiseled body days. But, what can’t be measured is how much heart you have and Robert Konrad has plenty of it.  

Konrad swam onto shore around 4:30 a.m. Friday. He said he was shaking uncontrollably and didn’t realize it was five in the morning. He couldn’t walk; he could only lie upon the beach.

Is Aquaman not a fair comparison? No, Konrad doesn’t have ability to stay underwater indefinitely, nor does he have super speed or telepathy, which Aquaman uses to communicate with sea-life. But, let’s be realistic. Konrad does have super strength and durability like Aquaman. I think it’s safe to say that after what Konrad just conquered, he’s the closest thing —or human — to Aquaman. Originally, I thought that was Michael Phelps. Once upon a time, I believed Phelps belonged in a class of his own and 18 gold medals are proof. Now, all I can say is, move aside Phelps, a new man has emerged as the ruler of the sea.

I’m for sure most, if not all, of you have never heard the name Rob Konrad before. That’s unless you’re from Rochester or Syracuse, New York, where Konrad’s Syracuse’s college football jersey was retired. Prior to his Aquaman-like accomplishment, I didn’t know the man existed.  As an NFL fullback he was never a household name. He surely didn’t put up MVP or even Pro Bowl numbers during his playing career. Hell, he struggled to stay on an NFL roster. But, I’ll do you one better. Rob Konrad is a Hall of Famer in my books. He deserves a gold jacket and that fancy, shiny, hunk of bronze bust that comes along with it. And, next to his bronze bust should be a picture of him holding a trident, riding in a chariot, accompanied by the Miami Dolphins.

The likes of Christian Bale, George Clooney and Adam West have played the role of Batman. All Batman movies are cash kings at the box office. Let’s get Konrad as Aquaman in the first-ever Aquaman movie. That would for sure be a box-office jackpot.

A 16-hour swim will most definitely test your mental makeup. Konrad constantly reminded himself of his two beautiful daughters, and that’s what propelled him to continue his swim without giving up. What better determination to have than your two beautiful daughters? Konrad’s wife, Tammy, told reporters her husband is always there to tuck his daughters in at night. For Konrad, there’s probably nothing sweeter.