marquis goodwin

Living to be a Father

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who know and follow him.

Psalm 1[03:13]

The ball was headed right for him as he swooped downfield past the only person covering him. As he looked up, he watched the perfectly passed football drop into his hands. In front of him was open space with no one to tackle him. With extraordinary speed, he raced for the touchdown.

When he arrived in the endzone, he quickly kneeled and gave the sign of the cross and blew a kiss to heaven to acknowledge who had given him that moment of glory and to a now-lost son. As an NFL player, it was his first touchdown for his new team in a game that would become their first win of the season.

He had experienced God

His teammates surrounded him as he collapsed with emotions that ranged from joy to thankfulness to sorrow. Each teammate patted him on the back and joined him in this emotional experience. They stayed with him far longer than any usual celebration of a touchdown. They all knew what he had gone through that day. It had been both a dark day and one where God had visited him. Marquise Goodwin had experienced God and the loss of a son on that sad day.

Earlier in the day, his wife had delivered a stillborn son. Goodwin had wanted to be a good dad and husband and wanted to stay with her instead of playing football. Goodwin’s own father had abandoned his family when he was young, leaving his mother to raise the family. That family had included a disabled child. At a young age, Marquise Goodwin became the male figurehead in his family. He vowed to himself throughout his life that he was going to be the father he’d never had.

Marquise was a blessed athlete.

He as not only a standout football player but also a speedy track star. As a senior in high school, he recorded the second fastest time in the 100-meter dash. His long jump became the national high school record.

Goodwin received a scholarship to the University of Texas and became a two-sport star both in track and field and football. He qualified for the Olympics in 2012. It was through track that he met his future wife, Morgan Snow.

When the two first dated, Marquise dropped by his mother’s house to introduce his new girlfriend—a step way too early in any relationship. While a bit put off by this, Morgan still hung around. She would later notice his commitment to his family and especially to his disabled sister. Their bond grew, and at halftime on senior day, Marquise proposed and Morgan accepted.

After college, they moved to Buffalo, where Marquise was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. For four years, he played with the Bills, never really making progress despite his unusual speed. He only started ten games during this period.

The following year, in 2017, he went on to the San Francisco 49ers. On a very weak team, he was inserted into the starting lineup. That year, his wife became pregnant and was due during the football season. Early Sunday morning of November 12th, his wife woke up with discomfort and knew her baby was in trouble. They quickly went to the hospital and received the devasting news—their son wasn’t going to make it. Still, she was able to deliver the baby and the two were able to hold him. Marquise wanted to call the 49ers and say he wouldn’t be able to play that day. But his wife said no—go play for your son.

Marquise protested.

As he’d grown into adulthood, one of his main life goals was to be a good husband and father, driven by the absence of his own father. The decision to play cut across the grain of an important life goal, but his wife persisted. He left her and the baby to play football that Sunday.

When Goodwin arrived, the coaches and players knew about the events earlier in the day and told him it was okay if he wanted to go home. Despite his grief, he suited up and assumed his normal starting role. His team had played poorly to this point in the season, but Marquise was having his best year as a pro, though still with no touchdowns to his name.

Then he made the catch and ran into the endzone. He knew God was watching over him, and he gave praise and recognition to his lost son.

Later, Morgan and Marquise had the baby cremated, and the ashes today sit in a vase on their nightstand where they can touch their lost baby.

We read many stories about over-selfish athletes.

They are the ones that make the headlines. But most are like Marquise. They give back to their communities. They visit the hospitals with sick children. Some ring the Salvation Army bell at Christmas. They aren’t looking to be self-important heroes. They just want to be good parents and community citizens. We don’t always get to know about the backstory of these types of athletes. They are still human beings with tragedies and joys in their lives. They raise families and help communities.

We won’t see the football players who meet in the center of the field after each NFL game and hold prayer sessions. The networks won’t show that scene, assuming it could be offensive to some. In a spirit of political correctness, the networks don’t show the more human side of these athletes.

Attached is the NFL 360 film featuring Marquise’s story. Click the link to know more.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Dr. Bruce L. Hartman is the author of Jesus & Co. and Your Faith Has Made You Well.