Coast Guard To End Search For NFL Players
Lions DE, Raiders LB Missing Off Fla. Gulf Coast
POSTED: Sunday, March 1, 2009
UPDATED: 3:12 pm CST March 3, 2009
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Coast Guard will end its search Tuesday for three missing boaters -- including two NFL players -- off of the Florida Gulf Coast.
"We're extremely confident that if there were any survivors on the surface of the water that we would have found them," the Coast Guard said.
Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, free-agent Corey Smith and former college player William Bleakley have been missing since Saturday. A fourth member of their party, Nick Schuyler, was found Monday, along with the overturned boat.
The Coast Guard said they found a life jacket and a cooler during their search, which included 50 missions during the 60 hours since the initial phone call that the boaters were missing.
The Coast Guard warned any amateur search parties to use "extreme caution" when on the water.
Cooper -- who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 -- owns the 21-foot boat that didn't return as expected Saturday night when the weather took a turn for the worse. Other boaters said they were surprised the water had gotten so rough. There were 7-foot seas in the area Saturday night.
"Marquis is an avid fisherman; he goes deep sea fishing any opportunity he gets," Bruce Cooper, Marquis' father, said in a statement. "Two years ago I went deep sea fishing with him. I swore I would never do so again; I didn't like the fact that I couldn't see land."
Bruce Cooper said he and his wife were alerted to Marquis' disappearance when they received a phone call from the parents of the NFL player's wife, Rebekah. Bruce Cooper said his son usually stayed out fishing for 12-14 hours, but his wife called authorities when she hadn't heard from him by 9 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The Coast Guard said it didn't receive a distress call from the missing boaters.
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Coast Guard To End Search For NFL Players - San Antonio Sports News Story - KSAT San Antonio