One year later, Marquise Goodwin’s emotional TD still resonates
One year later, Marquise Goodwin’s emotional TD still resonates
After Goodwin hauled in an 83-yard touchdown pass from quarterback C.J. Beathard in Week 10 against the New York Giants, he blew a kiss to the heavens and dropped to his knees to pray in the end zone, overcome by the weight of the moment.
In the wee hours of that Sunday morning, Goodwin’s infant son had been delivered stillborn, and after some internal debate and discussion with his wife, Morgan Goodwin-Snow, Goodwin decided he would play.
One year later, Goodwin’s perseverance still resonates in the Niners’ locker room.
“It was just very emotional moment for ‘Quise,” receiver Kendrick Bourne said. “Knowing what he was going through that week, man, you could feel it. I could feel it, once that ball left C.J.’s hand, and I knew who it was going to and just the mindset he had in that moment. That was all for his son, knowing how that situation just happened. It was definitely a blessing to be in, and I just said in his ear once I got down to him, man, like, you’re very blessed, bro. He’s up there watching. And things will turn around for your future, and you will have a family. It was just very emotional, a great moment to remember his son. It touches you every time you watch it.”
On this week’s edition of Monday Night Football, Goodwin and the Niners will play the Giants in another Week 10 matchup at Levi’s Stadium.
Under normal circumstances, the memories of the 10th game of a 6-10 season would quickly fade, but for the 49ers, last year’s game against the Giants is one they’ll never forget. In addition to Goodwin’s inspiring play, it was the Niners’ first win of the season and the first under coach Kyle Shanahan.
All of which makes memories of that day a bittersweet combination of joy and pain.
Choosing to play
On Wednesday of the week leading up to the game, Goodwin had informed some of his teammates that his wife was dealing with complications in her pregnancy, which was at 19 weeks. Bourne recalled Goodwin telling his fellow receivers what was happening and noticing that the normally upbeat Goodwin wasn’t his usual self.
“We knew what he was going through, and we had all kind of banded around him and let him know that we all had his back and were there for him,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said.
It didn’t take long to realize that Goodwin might not play that week. Teammates told him throughout the week that whatever he decided to do, they would be there for him for whatever he needed.
By Saturday, Goodwin had spoken to Shanahan and let him know that he would miss the team’s walkthrough and meetings that day so he could be at the hospital. Shanahan saw Goodwin later that night, when things had seemingly improved, but got another call hours later that Goodwin was headed back to the hospital to be with his wife.
At the time, Morgan Goodwin-Snow told People Magazine that there had been complications throughout the week leading up to the game. The child, who was named Marquise Jr., was delivered stillborn at 3:52 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.
In the moment, Goodwin wasn’t sure if he had it in him to play. But his wife encouraged him to give it a go.
“My wife, we prayed about it, and I guess she felt that God moved her to allow me to go play, and she encouraged me,” Goodwin said at the time. “She raised my spirits up and helped me get ready for the game.”
Without a wink of sleep and with little preparation, Goodwin rejoined the team and informed Shanahan that he was ready to play and help the team however he could.
“He’s an awesome guy, great teammate, nothing is going to get him down,” tight end Garrett Celek said. “He’s a competitor. Him and his wife have an incredible relationship. For her to go through what she did and then tell him, like, ‘I’m OK, your guys need you,’ that just shows how strong the two of them are.”
The play that almost wasn’t
Trailing 6-3 midway through the second quarter, Shanahan relayed the playcall to Beathard: H 2 F Palm Z Swirl Stack Right Clamp Minus Y Left. The play was designed to take a deep shot to Goodwin, but it almost never happened.
In fact, the play looked doomed before it began.
“We were struggling. We couldn’t get anything going,” Shanahan said. “We hadn’t won a game yet. ‘Quise, we didn’t even know if he was going to play because of the stuff he was going through, and that was a third-and-10.”
Before the snap, the 49ers were hoping to see the Giants playing quarters coverage, knowing that it could open things over the top for Goodwin on a post route. After breaking the huddle, Beathard stepped under center, much to the dismay of Shanahan, who said he expected him to be in shotgun and “was freaking out” when he wasn’t.
“I guess on the sideline, Kyle was cussing. He was pissed, like, ‘What the f—, what’s he doing under center?'” Beathard said. “And as I was dropping, like, ‘What’s he doing?’ and then ‘Oh, great job,’ like a swing of emotions.”
As Beathard dropped back, the Giants sent a two-person blitz with safety Landon Collins and linebacker Jonathan Casillas attacking up the middle. The blitz was unusual, but Celek and running back Carlos Hyde recognized it before the snap and communicated which player would pick up which defender.
Celek took out Collins as Hyde sent Casillas flying with a low block just before he could get to Beathard. Sure enough, on the back end, the Giants were indeed in quarters coverage, leaving cornerback Janoris Jenkins attempting to keep up with Goodwin.
Beathard let it fly as Goodwin gained separation from Jenkins. As the ball soared through the air, and before it even landed in Goodwin’s hands, Bourne could be seen raising his arms like Steph Curry letting a pure 3-pointer go and celebrating before it splashes through the net.
The pass landed softly in Goodwin’s hands at New York’s 35. He tucked it away and used his left arm to fend off Jenkins, keeping his balance as he raced toward the goal line. Just inside the 10, Goodwin blew a kiss to the sky before dropping to a knee in prayer as he reached the end zone overcome by emotion.
“I just remember beating the defensive back, C.J. throwing a wonderful ball and me coming down with it and running to the end zone with it,” Goodwin said. “And just getting on my knees thanking God for the opportunity.
“Really, technically the play wasn’t even supposed to get off, but for whatever reason, it did, and it was just meant to be.”
Sharing their story
After the Niners beat the Giants 31-21, the team celebrated its first win of the season in the locker room. Goodwin quickly exited to return to his wife’s side and soon revealed on Instagram that his son had passed away earlier in the day.
“To see him make a big play like that, elevate our team to a win and when he was going through so much, it just personified everything that Marquise is,” Juszczyk said. “He’s just a guy who has fought through so much adversity and a guy that we all look up to, and we were all really happy to see him make a play like that.”
A couple days after the game, Goodwin and his wife returned to Texas to be near family. The Goodwins decided it was important to share their story with the public. Goodwin participated in a conference call with Bay Area reporters and discussed the details of what he and his wife had been through. Morgan Goodwin-Snow offered more details to People Magazine, revealing that a previous pregnancy had ended with a miscarriage.
In the time since, the Goodwins have remained an open book when it comes to sharing their story and have stayed positive about starting a family in the near future. They wanted to tell their story in their own words, but also they knew how much it could help other couples dealing with similar pain.
“We just felt like we could help somebody else in a similar situation,” Goodwin said. “A lot of people deal with premature birth, more than I knew. So just raising awareness for it and helping people realize that those kind of things that happen in ‘normal people’s’ lives do happen in our lives everyday as well. There’s a lot of things that we have to fight through and still have to come play on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays.”
At the Niners’ Players for a Purpose season-opening event, Goodwin served as the keynote speaker and shared his and his wife’s story with fans. For next month’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, which allows players to show support for the cause of their choice, Goodwin will wear cleats supporting the March of Dimes, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
The message Goodwin and his wife want to get across hasn’t changed.
“Never stop believing,” Goodwin said last year. “The reward will last longer than the pain. Just because something that you wanted your whole life didn’t quite work out as you planned it to — a lot of the times it’s not supposed to work out how you want it to — it will grow you as a person and make you better. I know my wife and I will be better after this situation, and we’ll know how to handle it next time even better.
This week, Goodwin said he doesn’t reflect often on that day, though the touchdown will be one he remembers forever. A year later, he and his wife still hear from couples and families who have gone through similar things. Those notes and letters often thank Goodwin for being so open about something so heartbreaking and for having such a real, raw moment after the touchdown.
“It just felt like it was meant to be,” Beathard said. “I think God works in mysterious ways, and I think for whatever reason, that was supposed to happen, and it happened the way it did. That’s almost like it was his son looking down and had something to do with it, like an angel. It was pretty special.”
November 10, 2018 at 05:50AM