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Private search continues for missing boaters

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Family and friends refused to give up the search for two NFL players and a third man missing four days in the Gulf of Mexico, enlisting private boats and planes to comb the waters off the Florida coast.

The Coast Guard called off the official search Tuesday for Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, free-agent NFL defensive lineman Corey Smith, who played for the Detroit Lions last season, and former South Florida player William Bleakley. The friends have been missing since their boat overturned Saturday in rough seas.

Authorities were done, but about a dozen charter boats motored out Wednesday, some with friends of the families aboard, to try to locate some signs of the men, according to dock workers at John’s Pass near St. Petersburg. Three private planes also flew over the endless stretch of water, according to Cooper’s father.