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Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tank Johnson: Continue search for missing boaters

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Speaking on behalf of Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper's family, former Cowboys defensive tackle Tank Johnson is pleading to the public for someone to come forward and continue searching for Cooper and two other boaters who've been missing since Saturday. The fourth member of the fishing expedition off Florida's Gulf Coast, Nick Schuyler, was rescued Monday.

Johnson and Cooper were childhood friends and played football together at the University of Washington. Johnson made his request in front of several TV cameras after the Coast Guard called off its search for the three men at 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

"What we are asking for is experienced aviation pilots who are interested in helping us find the remains, if not Marquis, floating on the water and Corey and the other gentleman," Johnson told reporters.

"Anything can happen, stranger things have happened and we still have faith. If nothing else, get the remains back so we can have our family service and move on with closure in our life and that chapter. But these are people who we love dearly."

The Coast Guard has discouraged the families from launching their own search, but you can imagine the mixture of desperation and grief that they're dealing with at this time. Actually, most of us can't imagine what that feels like.

Finding Schuyler clinging to the capsized boat Monday was a miraculous thing and I'm sure it offered hope to the other three families. Now, the grim reality has set in.

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio has done a remarkable job covering this story. His Naval background gives him a unique perspective and he's handled the tragic situation with proper restraint and sensitivity. I just wish he had better news to report today.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of all four of these men.