TAMPA — As Nick Schuyler was wheeled into the hospital Monday, he could not have grasped the immensity of his story.
But others did.
Oprah. Larry King. Greta Van Susteren. Inside Edition. Fox News. ESPN. The Today Show. Good Morning America. Radio stations. Reporters from Seattle, Cleveland, Canada.
Everyone wants to talk to Nick Schuyler, the Miracle Man who clung to a boat in frigid water for 46 hours and lived to tell about it.
"Everybody wants his story," said John Dunn, who is handling the flood of media requests for Tampa General Hospital, where Schuyler is being treated. "And everybody's motivated by not wanting to see something on someone else's station."
The story has been among the most popular on tampabay.com, the Web site of the St. Petersburg Times, and for the Washington Post's Web site.
People — real people, not just the news media — want to know more from the one guy who was there. How could this happen? What were they thinking? What were they feeling? Why was he the only one still with the boat? How did he not freeze to death or lose his mind?
"I think you have an element of mystery, a story that has a lot of human appeal," ESPN's Jemele Hill said after a news conference with Schuyler's doctor. "All of us are wondering, 'Could I have held on and lasted 40-something hours?' There's just something about the determination, will and fortitude — it's just mind-boggling."
And, Hill pointed out, there's the celebrity factor. Marquis Cooper, 26, and Corey Smith, 29, are NFL players, and the other two, Schuyler, 24, and Will Bleakley, 25, are former University of South Florida football players.
Local connections with the four men have been made all over the country. Cooper's father, Bruce, is a TV sportscaster in Phoenix, and his station has followed the story closely. The Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, whom Cooper and Smith played for, issued public condolences.
And a small Ohio newspaper, the Geauga County Maple Leaf, has tracked the story of its own "Chardon High graduate," Nick Schuyler.
Booking agents from Good Morning America flew in from New York to talk to Schuyler's parents.
They all want Nick Schuyler.
But so far, he's not talking.
Emily Nipps can be reached at [email protected]