- The Washington Times - Monday, March 2, 2009

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 with 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.

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.

Del Duca called Smith one of the “good guys” of the league and said he 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.

Rick Davis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tampa, said seas were about two to four feet Saturday morning and increased to three to five feet in the afternoon. Late Saturday night, a small craft advisory was issued, when winds were around 20 knots and seas were up to seven 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.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide