Raider Nation took it's most painful hit in years this past March, when Oakland linebacker Marquis Cooper and three friends disappeared after a boating accident off the Gulf Coast of Florida. Only one of them survived.
The lone survivor, Nick Schuyler, has not spoken publicly about the accident since it happened. In fact, the mother of victim Will Bleakley told Tampa's ABC Action News that, "Nick has not talked about it to anybody."
But Schuyler has now spoken publicly, in an exclusive interview with Bernard Goldberg airing this week on HBO's "Real Sports".
His account of losing Cooper is one of the most harrowing portions of the interview. Schuyler recounts that the boaters were 50 miles offshore on the boat Cooper owned when weather conditions became unmanageable. The boat capsized not long afterward.
After many hours in the frigid waters wearing only life preservers, t-shirts, and shorts, Cooper succumbed to hypothermia and delirium. "After some time, Marquis went from being vocal and aggressive, to being unconscious," Schuyler said.
Schuyler is haunted by his memory of trying to hold the unconscious bodies Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith onto the boat by himself, as Will Bleakley was too weakened to help him. "I kept saying, Will, I can't hold both of them," Schuyler said, on footage available at Deadspin. "We decided that we're going to end up losing Corey if I hadn't let go of Marquis. We're going to lose another guy. That was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do, was to let him go."
Marquis Cooper is survived by his wife Rebekah and daughter, Delaney Christine. Just Blog Baby notes that the Raiders will honor Cooper this season with a #95 decal on their helmets.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who went through six Kleenex watching that segment.