ANCHORAGE, Alaska – NFL Hall of Famer Larry Csonka (search) was among six people plucked by helicopter from a stranded boat during a harrowing rescue in the Bering Sea (search), a newspaper reported Sunday.
Csonka, his partner, and a film crew from his television show were not injured, but the boat was abandoned at sea, the Anchorage Daily News reported in Sunday editions.
Csonka was part of a group returning from filming a hunting trip on an isolated island about 100 miles west of Unalaska on Wednesday when their 28-foot boat encountered bad weather.
The newspaper reported that 9-foot seas and gale force winds made it difficult to navigate the vessel, which then drifted away from the Aleut village of Nikolski.
After hours of worsening conditions, the Coast Guard (search) was called to help shortly after midnight Wednesday. A Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched from Kodiak, 600 miles away; it arrived around 10:45 a.m. Thursday and hoisted those on the battered boat one-by-one in a basket.
"We might very well have died if we stayed out there. It was tense," the 58-year-old Csonka told the newspaper Saturday in a phone interview from a hotel in Unalaska.
"It was 10 or 12 hours of moment-to-moment with sea sickness and not being able to drink water because it was so rough, and hanging onto each other," he said.
Csonka, his partner Audrey Bradshaw (search), film crew members John Dietrich and Rich Larson, and Thomas McCay, the guide for the hunt, were taping the event for the show "North to Alaska" when the weather worsened. Also on board the distressed boat was captain Dwight Johnson.
The former fullback for the Miami Dolphins, Csonka runs Zonk! Productions, which films episodes for his outdoor sports TV show.