Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul died Wednesday night at the age of 54 after suffering from a medical emergency at the team’s practice facility in Frisco, Texas, on Tuesday.
From Yahoo Sports:
Paul collapsed during a medical emergency on Tuesday morning at the Cowboys’ practice facility in Frisco. He was attended to by team medical personnel and paramedics on site before being taken to a local hospital in serious condition by ambulance.
Details about the medical emergency are unclear. Several players were on hand when it occurred, and practice and media availability for the day was abruptly canceled.
ESPN reports that Paul was taken to Plano Presbyterian Hospital where he died surrounded by family.
Paul had been an NFL strength and conditioning coach for 22 years and coached the Cowboys for the last three years. He began his coaching career with the New Orleans Saints in 1998, followed by five seasons with the New England Patriots, two seasons with the New York Jets—where he was the director of physical development as well as the head strength and conditioning coach—and then 11 seasons with the New York Giants.
After playing four seasons with the Syracuse Orange, where he was a two-time All-American, according to ESPN, Paul played in the NFL for five years as a defensive back for the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1989 to 1993.
“The passing of Markus Paul is a true loss to the NFL community and anyone who had the privilege of knowing him,” Ron Rivera, a former Chicago Bears teammate of Paul’s, said, ESPN reports. “Markus was a tremendous teammate during my time with the Chicago Bears and a good friend to me over the years. He was just a great man and will be missed by many.’’
In the wake of his passing, several Cowboys players—including linebacker Jaylon Smith, cornerback Jourdan Lewis and former Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston—took to Twitter to mourn and celebrate Paul.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued the following statement Wednesday:
“The loss of a family member is a tragedy, and Markus Paul was a loved and valued member of our family. 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.”
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy issued a statement as well. From Yahoo Sports:
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.”
According to Yahoo Sports, the Cowboys plan to honor Paul before Thursday afternoon before the annual Thanksgiving Day game in which the team will be playing against the Washington Football Team.
The cause of Paul’s death has not been announced.