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Tampa Bay Assistant Coach Missing

November 7, 2000

ATLANTA (AP) _ An assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was reported missing Monday after he failed to show up for a game the previous day against the Falcons.

The Atlanta police issued an alert asking for the public’s help in locating 44-year-old Wendell Avery.

Police spokesman John Quigley said foul play wasn’t suspected.

Avery, an offensive assistant for the Bucs, had not talked with his family or team officials since Saturday night, Buccaneers spokesman Reggie Roberts said.

``Our thoughts and prayers are with coach Avery and his family,″ Roberts said. ``We have filed a missing person’s report with the Atlanta police department and continue to monitor the situation.″

Avery has not been seen by the Bucs since a staff meeting at 10 p.m. Saturday, after the team arrived at its Atlanta hotel, Roberts said. The coach was not at Sunday’s game at the Georgia Dome.

Quigley said the team told Dome security about Avery’s absence during the game, and Atlanta police also were notified. The missing person’s report was issued late Monday afternoon.

Coach Tony Dungy did not mention Avery’s absence after the game _ won by the Bucs 27-14 _ or at his regular Monday news conference.

``Being a missing person is not a crime,″ Quigley said. ``However, it is unusual for someone in his position not to be heard from for this length of time. We are concerned, his family is concerned and obviously the team is concerned.″

Quigley said Avery used his cell phone to make a call at about 11 a.m. Sunday, two hours before the game’s kickoff. Quigley said the call was made within the city limits, but would not reveal with whom Avery spoke.

``We are still trying to follow those leads and see what we can locate,″ Quigley said. ``At this point, there’s no reason for us to suspect foul play. Obviously, there’s been a length of time _ over 24 hours _ since there’s been any contact with friends or relatives, so we are concerned.″

Avery, a former University of Minnesota quarterback, is in his second season with Tampa Bay. He spent 10 years as a college coach, including two seasons as the head coach of Savannah State, a Division II school in Georgia.

Avery and his wife, Brenda, have two children.

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