Private search on for missing NFL players in Gulf

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - It's now been more than four days since NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith and friend William Bleakley were lost on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida.

The Coast Guard called off its search Tuesday night but friends and family members have refused to give up. About a dozen charter boats and three private planes went out into the Gulf Wednesday in hopes of finding some sign of the men.

A fourth friend on the trip, Nick Schuyler, survived. He was found clinging to the overturned hull of the 21-foot boat Monday, 35 miles off Clearwater. Schuyler has talked about the ordeal to relatives of the others. He says the men kept getting knocked off the hull by the waves and kept climbing back on.

The boat was pulled ashore Wednesday night at a boat ramp in St. Petersburg. There was little visible damage, although an engine cover appeared to be missing, exposing wiring and parts.

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