Former Miami Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad says he cheated death last week.
"I shouldn't be here," Konrad said Monday during a South Florida news conference in which he recounted spending 16 hours in the Atlantic Ocean and swimming nine miles to safety after falling from his boat.
Konrad fought back tears while speaking to reporters for a half hour, telling of how thoughts of his wife and two daughters, ages 8 and 10, kept him going.
“I have two beautiful daughters,” he said. “I was hitting that shore."
Konrad set out alone in his 36-foot boat Wednesday morning. He put the boat on autopilot and started fishing, he said, when a huge wave knocked him overboard.
“At that point in time, after panicking, I realized I was in real trouble,’’ he said. “I was miles out, the boat was on autopilot heading east to the Bahamas, I didn’t have time to get out an SOS call. I knew I was in trouble.”
Konrad said he followed the sun west and, later, lights to shore. Along the way, Konrad said, he was stung by multiple jellyfish and circled by a shark.
He added that he passed a fishing boat in the water and saw a Coast Guard helicopter in the sky, but nobody on board either vehicle saw him.
“I realized at that point I was on my own,” Konrad said.
But, he added, he was determined to make it.
“After some time I just said, ‘Look, I’m not dying tonight, I’m going to make it to shore,'" he said. “It certainly tests your mind when you're in the water that long."
When he finally reached the Palm Beach shore at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, Konrad said, he couldn't walk at first and could only curl up to warm his body. He was later taken to the hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia, severe dehydration and rhabdomyolysis.
“It was a miracle that he made it home," his wife, Tammy Konrad, told reporters on Monday.