CLEARWATER, Fla. - Detroit Lions defensive end Corey Smith and Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper were among four boaters missing Sunday off Florida's Gulf Coast, the Coast Guard and Smith's agent said.
Smith and Cooper were on a 21-foot vessel that left Clearwater Pass on Saturday morning for a fishing trip and did not return as expected, the Coast Guard said Sunday. Crews used a helicopter and a 47-foot boat to search a 750-square mile area west of Clearwater Pass on Sunday.
Cooper owned the boat and he and Smith had been on fishing trips before, said Ron Del Duca, Smith's agent. The pair had been teammates on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004.
The Coast Guard said the two others were aboard, identified as Will Bleakley and Nick Schuyler, but they did not provide other details. The St. Petersburg Times on its Web site identified them as former University of South Florida players. Calls to the school by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
Smith, 29, had 30 tackles, including three sacks, and an interception in 12 games last season for the winless Lions. Smith, who is 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, also played for the San Francisco 49ers and played college ball at North Carolina State. He lives in Richmond, Va.
Del Duca called Smith one of the "good guys" of the league and was planning to start visiting teams as a free agent this week. He said he has spoken with Smith's family and is also in touch with Coast Guard officials.
"They've assured me that they're deploying all available resources to look for these guys and get them back," he said.
Cooper, 26, has played five seasons with the Buccaneers, Seahawks, Jaguars, Steelers and Raiders. He appeared in 26 games with the Buccaneers in 2004 and 2005, recording 30 tackles. He has played sparingly since as he has bounced between teams, appearing in 13 games and recording 10 tackles. Cooper, who is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, played college ball at Washington. His hometown is Mesa, Ariz.
Rick Davis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tampa, said seas were about 2 to 4 feet Saturday morning and increased to 3 to 5 feet in the afternoon. Late Saturday night, a small craft advisory was issued, when winds were around 20 knots and seas were up to 7 feet or more. There were no thunderstorms in the area.
Davis said the water was "extremely rough and choppy" on Sunday afternoon.
Lions spokesman Bill Keenist and Raiders senior executive John Hererra said the teams are monitoring reports.