Vrabel Considered Late Cowboys Strength Coach a 'Mentor'

Markus Paul was 54 years old when he died unexpectedly this week.
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Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel began his Friday press conference by expressing his deepest condolences to Markus Paul, his family and the Dallas Cowboys.

Paul, the Cowboys strength and conditioning coach, passed away Wednesday evening at Plano Presbertaryian Hospital after he experienced a non-coronavirus related medical emergency at the team’s facility on Tuesday morning. He was 54 years old. The cause of death was not announced.

“I want to extend my personal sympathy and condolences to Markus Paul’s family, the Dallas Cowboys and those players that were blessed enough to be with him, like I was a player in the New England Patriots organization,” Vrabel said. “Markus was an incredible mentor and an unbelievable strength and conditioning coach. I know he touched a lot of people’s lives and he will be missed.”

Paul spent five seasons (2000-2004) as the New England Patriots assistant strength and conditioning coach. Vrabel played for New England from 2001-2008.

On New England’s staff, Paul worked under Mike Woicik, who was the Patriots’ strength and conditioning coach from 2001 to 2008. Woicik was Syracuse’s strength and conditioning coach for nine seasons (1981-1989), where Paul was a two-time All-American defensive back from 1984-88.

Paul’s time in New England included three Super Bowl victories.

“I also would like to extend condolences to Mike Woicik, who was a mentor to him [Paul] in the strength and conditioning field, on and off the field,” Vrabel said.

Paul played five seasons in the NFL, from 1989 to 1993, with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He began his coaching career in 1998 as the New Orleans Saints assistant strength and conditioning coach. He left New Orleans after the 1999 season for New England.

Before becoming the Cowboys strength and conditioning coach in 2018, Paul spent 11 seasons with the New York Giants as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. He was on staff for both of the Giants’ Super Bowl victories over the Patriots (2007, 2011). He also served as the strength and conditioning coach for the New York Jets in 2006.

The Cowboys played Washington on Thursday. Ahead of the 41-16 defeat, the team had commemorative “MP” patches stitched on to their jerseys.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the whole family,” Vrabel said.