The Bleacher Report Community Pays Tribute to Those We Lost at Sea

TJ JenkinsAnalyst IMarch 6, 2009

Who can predict where the wind will blow? Who can know when we have seen our last day?

The past five days have brought that shocking realization upon every NFL fan, college football fan, and really any person with a caring soul. We lost three members of the brotherhood of organized football. We lost our role models, our athletes, and our brothers—Marquis Cooper, Corey Smith, and William Bleakley.

Nick Schuyler was the lone survivor of a fun-filled fishing trip gone horribly wrong. One cannot imagine the perseverance and heartache he showed clinging to the boat for dear life, and watching his friends slowly succumb to their own fatigue and the elements.

While I didn't know any of the four personally, I firmly believe that everyone who has put on pads and a helmet for any amount of time shares a special brotherhood, a fraternity. When you bleed and sweat with the same men for years, you forge friendships.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fans of these men. My heart genuinely hurts for them. I cannot begin to imagine what they went through, nor what their families are currently going through.

The Coast Guard officially called off the search, and it sent a shocking chill of realization down my spine. I knew that with every hour that passed, the chances of bringing them home alive grew slimmer and slimmer.

Once I learned that they had removed their life vests and that the search had been called off, I sat down in silence and paid my respects to these men, these athletes, my brothers in football.

We've lost countless members of this brotherhood in the past year and the pain eventually ebbs. At the same moment, however, there is a longing for them. Not just for what they did for the game but for what they could offer this world.

These three young men will never have the opportunity to achieve their innermost dreams, and they'll never have the chance to grow old with their loved ones. But they'll have had the chance to leave a mark on everyone they've met, and everyone that's watched them play.

I beseech you to take a moment away from your busy day. A moment away from your love of writing, to simply think of these men. Pray in your own special way, and pay your respects in whatever way you do.

Rest In Peace my brothers, you will be missed.