FRISCO, Texas – After returning to practice Wednesday, the Cowboys on Thursday are paying their respects to strength and conditioning coordinator Markus Paul, who passed away last week at age 54.
Head coach Mike McCarthy said the team would virtually participate in a memorial service for Paul on Thursday.
Last Tuesday morning, Paul suffered a medical emergency at The Star in Frisco and was immediately treated by Cowboys medical personnel and transported to a local hospital by ambulance.
Surrounded by his loving family, Paul passed away at the hospital last Wednesday night.
The Cowboys honored Paul with a moment of silence prior to their Thanksgiving Day game against Washington. They also wore "MP" decals on the back of their helmets.
In his third year with the Cowboys' strength and conditioning staff, Paul had been promoted to replace retiring long-time coordinator Mike Woicik prior to the 2020 season. Paul was an NFL assistant for 23 years and won five Super Bowl rings on staff with the Patriots and Giants.
Paul was beloved by players, coaches and staff for his humor, kindness and dedication to the job. As Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said last Friday, Paul's role with the players was unique to other assistant coaches because he worked with every player on a daily basis, regardless of position.
"He touches everybody in his role, and everyone had their stories of the time they spent with him all the way from (Head) Coach (Mike) McCarthy, who weekly spent a lot of time with him because they would go over each player and had a lot of time there together," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. "He's a wonderful man."
This week, the Cowboys are in the process of preparing for next Tuesday's game against the Baltimore Ravens. But Paul's passing still weighs on their minds as they get back to work.
Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said Paul was a "father figure" to many players on the team.
"I know it's still taking a toll on a lot of us," Vander Esch said. "He's an amazing dude and I'm going to miss him in here every single day. I'm just going to continue to keep praying for his family and praying for him and just knowing that he's in a good place now. It's been a struggle, but we're all here for him and we're all here for his family and the strength coaches that work with him every day."
Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie said Paul set a "perfect example" of someone who always did things right.
"I think why it's hurting a lot of us so much," Awuzie said. "But you never know what time God allows you on this earth. You've got to do what Coach Markus did, and that was be a servant, definitely preaching God's word and then obviously the impact on every place he stepped in. It was a tremendous service."