Marquise Goodwin never allowed himself to consider the alternative, that his football career might be over.
Not for a single second.
Diagnosed with blood clots in his legs and lungs at the start of his first training camp with Cleveland, the speedy wide receiver had faith he would play again.
“No doubt in my mind,” Goodwin said, sweat still streaking down his face after leaving the field. “I knew I would come back. That’s why I stayed here every day with a smile on my face, positive attitude, because I knew I was coming back.”
Goodwin returned and practiced Tuesday with the Browns for the first time in months after dealing with a medical condition he described as “more alarming than scary.”
The 32-year-old was reluctant to provide any details about his health, but said the experience changed him.
“I’m just more grateful,” he said. “I think my perspective has changed in that sense. Just more grateful for life, more grateful for opportunity, because it could have very well ended. It could have been my last play in mini-camp, so I’m glad just to be back on the field for real.”
The Browns are thrilled to have him back. They signed the nine-year veteran originally drafted by Buffalo in 2013 to a one-year contract as a free agent in April to address their need for a deep receiving threat to help quarterback Deshaun Watson.
And while he’s brought that skill set, Goodwin, a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic track team, also spent part of his time this summer staying in shape while serving as a mentor to Browns rookie receiver Cedric Tillman.
To Goodwin, that came very easily.
“I’m naturally a big brother,” he said. “I’m the oldest of 12 kids, so it’s like I’ll be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t say something to him that I saw that would make him better. I just try to embrace any guy that is willing to listen.
“I’ve been around the game and seen some things, so I just give what I can and thank you to Ced and guys like him who have embraced that in me and listened and taken on the things that I’ve given them.”
Goodwin stayed with the Browns during his recovery, in part so the team’s medical staff could closely monitor him. Considering that he couldn’t practice, it would have been understandable if Goodwin had taken some time off.
The opposite happened.
He worked as hard as ever, so he’d be ready the moment he was cleared medically to play.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski marveled at Goodwin’s commitment.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been around a player who’s as locked in as he is without practicing for a long time,” Stefanski said following the team’s first practice since trimming the roster to 53. “He’s in every meeting. He is locked in every walkthrough, every game. That’s hard for a player that’s not getting any reps to play that role for himself, for his teammates.”
Moore said staying in tune wasn’t hard.
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“Being locked in is a part of my DNA, honestly,” he said. “It’s just part of my job. I’m a professional.”
He’s been a dependable one while catching 187 passes during a journey that began in Texas and has taken him from Buffalo to San Francisco to Chicago to Seattle and now Cleveland. He’s been motivated along the way by a younger sister, Deja, who was stricken with cerebral palsy.
Goodwin wasn’t going to let this recent medical scare put him off course.
“This is just something that I had to deal with and overcome,” he said. “Another hurdle that I had to jump over. A lot of things that was thrown our way, we had to overcome, and I’m just glad that I was able to.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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