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Quarterback Jon Kitna, a former teammate with the Lions the past three seasons, said you never expect something like this to happen to a guy you know.
"It's a reminder of how life is fragile," he said. "Corey was a great dude."
The four men left Clearwater Pass early Saturday in calm weather, but heavy winds picked up through the day and the seas strengthened, with waves of 7 feet and higher, peaking at 15 feet on Sunday. The Coast Guard said it did not receive a distress signal.
Close said some family members asked about continuing the search on their own, which he discouraged but said the Coast Guard wouldn't prevent. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may be heading out Wednesday to recover the boat.
Schuyler told the Coast Guard the boat was anchored when it capsized.
The Coast Guard hadn't had more detailed conversations with Schuyler because of his physical condition, Close said. Schuyler was in fair condition and told hospital officials he didn't want to speak to the media.
Cooper, who is 26 and owns the boat, was selected in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Washington. He played 26 games for the Bucs in his first two pro seasons, then led a nomadic NFL existence.
Cooper and Smith, 29, became friends when they were teammates at Tampa Bay. Smith signed with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent in 2002, and spent last season with Detroit before becoming a free agent. The former North Carolina State standout recorded 42 tackles (28 solo), three sacks and 10 special teams tackles in 2008, his best NFL season.
Bleakley, a 25-year-old former tight end from Crystal River, Fla., was on the USF football team in 2004 and 2005. He had one reception for 13 yards in his career, which also included some time on special teams.
Stuart Schuyler said his son is an instructor at L.A. Fitness and had helped train Smith and Cooper.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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