FRISCO - Markus Paul, the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning coach since 2018, passed away on Thanksgiving Eve at the age of 54, a tragic event that sent the team into mourning ... and now into an unusual circumstance on Thursday.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday at North Colony Church of Christ in The Colony. The Cowboys, who will spent Wednesday evening as a group watching the Steelers-vs.-Ravens game, and will spend much of Thursday studying Baltimore as the next opponent, will also spend Thursday morning as a team in virtual attendance of the funeral.
Paul's family made it clear that he was "surrounded by love'' in his passing. And the Cowboys have expressed their love for him as well.
“The loss of a family member is a tragedy, and Markus Paul was a loved and valued member of our family,'' team owner Jerry Jones said. "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.”
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Added coach Mike McCarthy: “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. 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 handled 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.”
Paul had a lengthy history as an NFL staffer, largely under the mentorship of former Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik, with whom he first worked at Syracuse, where Paul, a native of Orlando, Florida, played college football. Over the course of Paul's career, he worked alongside Woicik in various stops, including as a multiple-time Super Bowl winner while on the staff of coach Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots and then with the New York Giants.
Paul, who was a Chicago Bears fourth-round pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, had a four-year career as a part-time starter at safety for the Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dallas is on a long practice week in advance of its rescheduled trip to Baltimore. Preparation for that Tuesday game continues today here at The Star ... but it will also include the continuing dealing with the emotions of the death of a football family member in Paul, who died at Plano Presbyterian Hospital.
Following the funeral in North Texas, Paul will be interred in Narcoossee Arthur Fell Cemetery in St. Cloud, Florida.