Markus Paul, the Dallas Cowboys‘ head strength and conditioning coordinator and a revered coach around the NFL landscape, died on Wednesday, the team announced. He was 54.
“The loss of a family member is a tragedy, and Markus Paul was a loved and valued member of our family,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement released to the media. “He was a pleasant and calming influence in our strength room and throughout The Star. His passion for his work and his enthusiasm for life earned him great respect and admiration from all of our players and the entire organization. We offer our love and support to his family in this very difficult time. Our hearts are broken for his family and all of the individuals whose lives he touched and made better.”
“We extend our love, strength, and support to Markus’ family during this most challenging of times and ask that their privacy be respected moving forward,” head coach Mike McCarthy said. “Markus Paul was a leader in this building. He earned the players’ respect and attention because he cared so much and was a naturally gifted communicator — both on the personal and professional levels. He handed every situation, sometimes with a smile and a pat on the back, and sometimes with tough love. He had innate toughness in a job that requires that quality, and he was admired throughout the NFL by his peers and the players he coached. It was a privilege to work with him as a coach and laugh with him as a friend. Markus did everything the right way.”
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Paul suffered a non-COVID-related medical emergency at the Cowboys’ Frisco headquarters Tuesday and was rushed via ambulance to a local hospital. He passed away Wednesday evening, surrounded by family. The cause of death is pending, the team announced.
The Cowboys, who canceled Tuesday’s practice following the incident, plan to honor Paul during their Thanksgiving Day home game against Washington.
Reaction Pours In
A former NFL defensive back and longtime strength and conditioning coach, Paul received touching tributes from ex-teammates and employers, current players, and media members — among many others — upon news of his passing.
All of us with the Giants, the Mara and Tisch families and the entire organization, extend our deepest condolences on the passing of Markus Paul. Markus was a beloved member of our organization for several years.
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 26, 2020
It was amazing how many times I would see a clock and it would say 10:32. That meant Markus Paul was with me at that moment. During the course of a tough game, tough day he was by my side. Even though he’s left us I know he will still be by my side. Miss You, Love You MP pic.twitter.com/2StIPmg0wD
— Daryl Johnston (@DarylJohnston) November 26, 2020
This one truly hurts man. Great coach, even better person. 🙏🏾 https://t.co/SpZyrWDwu8
— Kavon Frazier (@Kay_BlackSimba) November 26, 2020
My feelings are so hurt… My condolences to the Paul family. Coach Markus was a great man and loved getting us better, you will be missed Coach!
— Jourdan Lewis (@JourdanJD) November 26, 2020
My fav pic! Paul led us to the Corn Hole Championship at Katy Trail Icehouse. Man was on fire. We finished 2nd overall. All because of Paul! Man Paul was amazing. Hurting however, I smile be I had the opportunity to be apart of his life. 🖤 pic.twitter.com/h8bMH2NMkd
— Phillip Tanner (@PTanner34) November 25, 2020
Markus Paul was so highly regarded as a coach and person within the Cowboys organization and around the NFL. My heart goes out to his family.
— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) November 26, 2020
The loss of Markus Paul is just stunning. Beautiful soul, wonderful person and a leader in every way. Thankful for his presence💔🙏🏻🙏🏻 Impossible to understand.
— Brad Sham (@Boys_Vox) November 25, 2020
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Paul’s Professional Resume
After playing stints with the Chicago Bears (1989-1993) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993), Paul began his coaching career as a strength and conditioning assistant with the New Orleans Saints in 1998.
He bounced from the New England Patriots (2000-04), New York Jets (2005-06), and New York Giants (2007-2018) before landing the job with Dallas in 2018. He was promoted to the head position this year, replacing Mike Woicik.
“The Cowboys didn’t allow the media to have much access to the strength coaches especially under the stoic Mike Woicik. But we knew there was a change in humanity when Markus Paul showed up in 2018. Always a smile on his face and old school soul music blaring from weight room. RIP,” Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweeted Wednesday.
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL