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Search Ends for 2 NFL Players, 3rd Man Lost at Sea

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Associated Press: The Coast Guard's three-day search for two NFL players and a third man sent adrift in chilly seas ended in futility, dashing hopes they might be found after rescuers plucked one survivor from the Gulf of Mexico.

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Crews combed more than 24,000 miles of ocean before calling off their search Tuesday for Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, free-agent defensive lineman Corey Smith and former South Florida player William Bleakley. The four friends had been missing since Saturday when their boat capsized during a fishing trip.

On Monday, Crews did rescue Bleakley's former South Florida teammate, 24-year-old Nick Schuyler, who managed to stay with the 21-foot boat. But Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Close said if there were any other survivors, they would have been found.

"I think the families understood that we put in a tremendous effort," Close said. "Any search and rescue case we have to stop is disappointing."

Searchers spotted no signs of the men except for a cooler and a life jacket 16 miles southeast of the boat. Still, family members of Cooper -- the son of Phoenix sportscaster Bruce Cooper -- maintained hope at a Tuesday night prayer vigil in Mesa, Ariz., that he might turn up.

"Even if he goes on, he's with the Lord," said Cooper's grandmother, Zelma Davis. "But we have hope we're going to keep him."

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