It’s just a game. Football, that is. Just a friggin’ game played by grown men while making a good living doing it. Pro football.
Most of the players in the NFL began their journey at some point while they were still a kid. Third grade, middle school, maybe the high school level. Playing football was a way to see what type of athlete can emerge or a way to get out of the house, have fun, or meet girls. Yeh, girls like football players.
The better players go on to college and begin a new chapter in what could now be classified as their playing career. The others from high school, well, they had fun and met some girls; then off to college themselves to become pharmacists, teachers, hotel management personnel, engineers, cosmetologists, and IT problem-solvers.
The Cleveland Browns were very busy in free agency this year. GM Andrew Berry took the essence of the inherent weaknesses from that disappointing 2022 season, then signed some key bodies to fill those roles. Inbound into the Berea Complex are new gunners, safeties wearing Super Bowl rings, pass rushers, and pass catchers.
One of these pass catchers is Marquise Goodwin, who signed away from the Seattle Seahawks. The Browns inked him to a one-year deal.
The Goodwin signing came right off the heels of the franchise trading for the disgruntled Elijah Moore erstwhile of the New York Jets. The former second-round pick wasn’t getting the targets he felt he deserved at his wide receiver position, and wanted out of the Big Apple.
Both players arrive in a receiver room which will need more chairs to accommodate meetings.
Goodwin and Moore are now entrenched with the Browns’ resident Pro Bowler Amari Cooper, and budding star Donovan Peoples-Jones. Then there are other veterans such as Anthony Schwartz and Jakeem Grant; who is really a caped crusader when returning kicks and masquerading as a receiver.
Demetric Felton has decided to hang up his running back cleats for full-time receiver boots. Then there are last year’s rookies with David Bell, Michael Woods II, Isaiah Weston, and various others such as Marquez Stevenson, Mike Harley, Jr., Jaelon Darden, and Daylen Baldwin.
All of these guys have their own stories regarding their football life, trials and tribulations, successes, and failures that have placed them into an orange helmet.
But Goodwin has a message to tell.
Beginning with the bad news
Instead of taking Goodwin’s life from his high school days through the college ranks and into his rookie season in the NFL, we will begin with the unpleasantness. Stuff that all parents dread, or won’t talk about. The things that teach a grown man how to cry, and more importantly, why to have an outburst of emotion.
Predominately, Goodwin (5’-9”, 183 pounds) was a track star. The day that Goodwin was born, God reached out with his index finger and lightly touched both of Goodwin’s legs. He was bestowed with a gift - the endowment of speed and swiftness barely touching Earth as he moved along. Plus, the ability to jump.
Goodwin was state champion while attending Rowlett High School in Rowlett, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Although he was a sprinter, his specialty was the long jump. Later, he would capture two national college championships while he attended the University of Texas. He represented the United States as a long jumper in the 2012 Olympic Games as well as the 2015 Pan American Games where he took silver.
After his senior season at Texas, Goodwin was drafted in the third round by the Buffalo Bills where he played four seasons. With his four-year rookie contract expired, the Bills did not offer him a new deal. So, he signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
This time frame will be forever etched into the lives of Goodwin, and his wife Morgan.
In Buffalo, Goodwin was just one of those fast guys who could catch footballs some of the time and then drop passes during the other measures of the game clock. In San Francisco, however, he was a fan favorite. He was the type of player that was a role model, made himself accessible to fans, somebody you could root for as the underdog while sporting his jersey during games.
And while Goodwin enjoyed the area, he already had plans on starting his own family – again. The Goodwins had a miscarriage while in college. Away from frigid Buffalo, they were now living in a warmer environment, so the couple took a year to finally get a positive pregnancy test.
Morgan was pregnant with a son in 2017 with an expected delivery time of September 2018. But she had lots of complications throughout her pregnancy. Leading up to the Week 10 of the 2017 season against the New York Football Giants, the Goodwin couple struggled to keep the baby safe in the womb. The baby was prematurely delivered on the Sunday of the game just after 4:00 am due to preterm labor.
Their son was just at 19 weeks gestation and was delivered when the boy’s lungs were not developed enough to survive.
Goodwin announced the loss of their son on Instagram just hours before the Giants game. His message:
“I just wanna thank those who’ve genuinely prayed for @morganakamomo & myself throughout this pregnancy. Unfortunately, we lost our baby boy due to some complications and had to prematurely deliver him early this morning around 4 a.m. Although we are hurt, I am grateful for the experience and grateful that God blessed me with a wife as courageous and resilient as Morgan. The pain (physically, mentally, & emotionally) that she has endured is unbelievable. Please Pray for the Goodwin family.”
The home game against New York began anyways, as what happens in sports. And Goodwin played for the 0-9-0 49ers.
Down 6-3 in the second quarter, San Fran quarterback C.J. Beathard heaved a pass from his own 17-yard line towards Goodwin which he caught at the Giants 35, and then outran his pursuit for an 83-yard touchdown.
The 31-21 win finally put the 49ers in the win column. Goodwin had one jet sweep for 18-yards and finished with just the one catch. Most of the 70,133 in attendance did not have any inkling about Goodwin’s heart-wrenching situation prior to kickoff, nor why he pointed to the heavens when he crossed the goal line, or as he sat with his eyes upward as he thought about their tragic experience earlier that morning.
“Please pray for the Goodwin Family” became a fan slogan after it became widely known that despite the loss of their child, Goodwin kept grinding and actually scored his stillborn child a touchdown with his team’s first victory.
Good years with bad in San Francisco
For Goodwin, his first season with San Francisco was very good. He had 56 receptions for 962 yards, both career highs. He also scored two touchdowns. The following spring he signed a three-year $20.3 million extension.
But Goodwin’s story of grief does not end with a miscarriage and a premature birth.
One thing the Goodwin’s had learned, was to never take pregnancy for granted. Bringing new life into the world is not an easy thing for any mother, especially one that has had problems in the past.
Fast forward to 2019. This may be the worst year of Goodwin’s life.
That season the 49ers began 8-0-0. In Week 10 Goodwin suffered a quad injury. The club waited to see if he could return, but on December 10 he was placed on IR. This eliminated any possibility of participating in the playoffs. San Francisco won the NFC West Division plus was the Number 1 seed, then defeated the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. This sent them to Super Bowl LIV, but lost 31-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Goodwin finished 2019 with just 186 yards on 12 receptions, 21 targets, and a single score.
All the while since training camp, Morgan was again pregnant. Later, they found out it would be twins. Twin sons.
From the onset there were complications. Morgan had cervix problems. She first underwent procedures related to remedying these issues, as well as endometriosis, and found a polyp in her uterus.
Then in November, she began to experience preterm labor just like her other pregnancy and had contractions. She was then in and out of the hospital, each time sent home on bed rest. As the 49ers were about to leave for the airport for the journey to Florida in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morgan woke up at 3:00 am with bad contractions. She was rushed to the hospital and again admitted into the hospital.
Almost immediately after being admitted, her water broke. Morgan’s doctor then explained that there wasn’t a chance that the two babies could survive from just 19 weeks until their final months if the water is gone.
The first child’s sack had ruptured which caused the contractions. An emergency surgery was performed to remove her previously implanted transabdominal cerclage so they could have a delayed delivery. But the second boy’s sack became ruptured during the procedure.
Ultimately, neither child survived.
Goodwin explained to People Magazine:
“Unfortunately, baby A was not breathing when he came out. But he also came out arms first because he was already in my [birth] canal. So then baby B came out. He was breathing still. He was probably breathing for about 30 minutes before he passed away.”
Goodwin took off two games. The couple had a difficult time keeping busy and preoccupied, but an attempt was made. Lots of prayers were offered, along with visiting family, and friends or tending to their dogs.
Talking about your grief
The next step was eventually opening up and discussing the tragedy and pain that goes into losing a child. Make that, losing children. For the Goodwin’s, this made the third time they had issues with birth – and death.
Morgan explained to People:
“I think that it just brought us closer together. I hear a lot of stories about women having pregnancy loss and then ends up putting a gap in their relationship. The husband is resentful [because he thinks] you can’t even have our baby or something like that, but it never got to that point. (Marquise) was always supportive. We are very spiritual. We keep God first, so we resort to prayer.”
Losing a child right after childbirth is not an uncommon situation. It’s just that you don’t really hear those stories.
It’s something that many women experience, but obviously, nobody wishes to talk about it. It’s a loss of not only life but of your own child. Even if that child never learned to walk, ride a bike, or throw Spaghetti-O’s all over the wall, it remains life. As a mother, you carry life inside you, watch what you eat and drink, go thru the misery of weight gain and being uncomfortable, or have to ask someone to tie your shoes.
Nobody but the woman, plus the father, will understand what a horrific day it is to be told that their child, their legacy, their extended family, the love of their life, did not survive the very essence of being an actual human with the act of childbirth.
And ultimately both parents are standoffish with discussing the matter with anyone. Both parents don’t wish for others to assume that they are at fault. Or that something is definitely wrong with them. So, the matter goes untold.
Which means the healing never begins.
Morgan has since delivered two healthy babies, a daughter, Marae, in 2020, and a son, Marquise Jr., earlier in 2022.
As far as Marquise Goodwin, the loss of four children remains in every pass reception he cradles. Football used to be fun, but now it is a reminder of the children he lost and the blessing of the two healthy children God bestowed on himself and his wife Morgan.