The Oakland Raiders said in statement they "continue to hold out hope" that linebacker Victor "Marquis" Cooper and two other men will be located and rescued even though the U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search.
The team added, "With the Coast Guard's decision to cease search and rescue efforts, we are faced with the reality that this mission may not turn out the way that we all desire."
Head coach Tom Cable said, "The glass is always half full to me. Until they find a body, I'll keep hoping he's on some island there."
Cable said he's "very saddened" by Cooper's disappearance, calling it "a tragic event."
Though Cooper played for the Raiders for just a short time, Cable says he had a big impact on the team.
"I think he is a part of the reason we turned around and had some success at the end of the year," he said. "When you watched him walk in the building, in the locker room or go out to the field he had a glow about him ... you know what, I love what I'm doing."
Cooper, former 49er Corey Smith and William Bleakley and Nick Schuyler, who both played football at the University of South Florida, left in Cooper's 21-foot center console boat about 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
The boat was found capsized Monday with Schuyler clinging to its hull.
Bleakley's mother said Schuyler gave her a harrowing account of the men's fight to survive after the boat capsized Saturday evening. Betty Bleakley said Schuyler told her the men swam back to the overturned boat after being repeatedly hurled by strong waves.
"To listen to Nick, they fought real hard to come home," Betty Bleakley said. "Nick said that all of them fought, just fought to stay alive."
Bleakley and Schuyler, college teammates, managed to stick together for about 24 hours. She says they talked about how they would live their lives differently if they were rescued.
Coast Guard officials said they are "confident" that if there had been any survivors on the surface of the water searchers would have spotted them.
A doctor on Wednesday said it's a "miracle" that Schuyler survived being in the cold Gulf water for nearly two days.
Dr. Mark Rumbak said Schuyler is in good condition but will remain in intensive care in case there are complications.
He was in the 63-degree Gulf of Mexico water for around 46 hours and probably could have lived only another five to 10 hours if he wasn't rescued Monday, Rumbak said.
"To stay in the water for 46 hours and to be alive afterwards, I think it is a miracle," Rumbak said. "I really do."