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Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Marquise Goodwin prays after NFL football practice as Cottenwood tree fluff falls around him, Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Turning Heartbreak Into Healing
Marquise Goodwin has enjoyed a strong training camp with the Seahawks, but he and his wife, Morgan, are also focused on another goal that is bigger than anything he does on a football field.
By John Boyle Aug 24, 2022
Photographs By Ted S. Warren

Sometimes it comes in the form of a vulnerable social media post. Sometimes it's a hug for a near stranger after the two share with each other their stories of miscarriages and premature birth. And other times for Marquise and Morgan Goodwin, the healing, both for themselves and others whose lives they've touched, comes through sharing their pain and hope and joy with the world.

Morgan and Marquise Goodwin will never be able to quantify how may people they've helped by being so open with their own stories of loss—there's no measuring the ripple effects of compassion—but what is indisputable is the fact that for a lot of people, the pain was just a little bit more bearable because stories like the Goodwins' offer a reminder to others that they're not alone.

"Just please go play. Your baby wants to see you play."

Even as an established veteran with eight seasons and 89 games under his belt, Goodwin kicked off his first training camp with the Seahawks with a very basic goal in mind.

"To make the team, for one," Goodwin said, matter-of-factly a couple of weeks into camp.

At the time, that seemed like an ironclad lock seeing as Goodwin was establishing himself as the team's No. 3 receiver behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. And while a hamstring injury sidelined Goodwin for a bit—he returned to practice this week after missing Seattle's first two preseason games—his combination of world-class speed, pass-catching ability and veteran leadership should still make him a safe bet to be on the roster when the Seahawks host the Broncos in Week 1.

But regardless of what transpires with Goodwin's on-field career between now and the second weekend of September, he'll bring to that process a level of maturity and patience very few young men in any walk of life possess, and he's come about those traits by experiencing, along with his wife Morgan, a level of heartbreak that no young parents should have to know.

In 2017, Morgan, who met Goodwin when the two were track stars at the University of Texas, found out, 19 weeks into what to that point had seemed like a normal pregnancy, that she had an incompetent cervix.

Not long after, a day before Goodwin was set to play a game with the 49ers, Morgan delivered a son who, at 20 weeks, was unable to survive outside of the womb. A grieving Marquise Goodwin planned to stay with his wife in the hospital, but she demanded he go suit up for his team's Week 10 game against the Giants. In a moment that was equal parts uplifting and heartbreaking, Goodwin hauled in an 83-yard touchdown reception in that game, his first of the season, then dropped to both knees, sobbing in the end zone.

"Man, honestly, I didn't even want to play," Goodwin said. "She made me. She said, 'Just please go play. Your baby wants to see you play.' She just was throwing out everything that she could to encourage me to go play. And her doing that, that was the most selfless moment I've ever been a part of. Here you are, essentially your guts falling out, and the baby's gone, but you still want me to leave you at the hospital so I can go be around my teammates and playing a game. How selfless is that?"

Talking to the NFL Network, Morgan explained the decision to push her husband to play, saying, "It was important for me, because his son wouldn't be able to watch him play. Me and your son, we're watching you. You've got to go out there. He didn't want to. He kept calling me like, 'Babe, I don't know if I can do this.'"

The following year, following a procedure to correct the incompetent cervix called transabdominal cerclage, Morgan was again pregnant, this time with twins. But at 19 weeks Morgan was hospitalized when her water broke, and once again, the Goodwins experienced the unthinkable, losing both sons.

Fortunately, the Goodwins' journey didn't end there. After another TAC procedure, Morgan delivered a healthy girl, their rainbow baby, Marae, in 2020. Goodwin understandably chose to take a COVID-19 opt-out that season, a "no-brainer" of a decision, he said given his family's history with child loss and the uncertainty about COVID at the time. And earlier this year, the Goodwins welcomed a son, Marquise Jr., to the world.

"They're top-of-the-line people. The things they went through… Being able to speak about it, that takes guts."

Not long after Goodwin's dramatic 2017 touchdown following the loss of their son, he shared the family's sad news on social media. He and Morgan were met not just with an outpouring of support, but with messages from people who had losses of their own. By sharing their trauma, Marquise and Morgan realized they could help others heal.

It's why Marquise will share the very personal details of his story with a reporter he barely knows. It's why Morgan posts on Instagram a picture of her cesarean scars with the caption, "Love your postpartum body." And it's why they shared so much of their journey on a YouTube channel called GoodwinSZN, from informing people about the loss of their twins, to documenting their trip to Chicago for a second TAC procedure, to posting the video of Marquise Jr.'s cesarean birth.

"It has definitely made me mature in a lot of areas that I never knew I'd have to experience," Goodwin said. "Having childbirth issues has been magnified in our life, obviously losing three kids to incompetent cervix, and I know now that a lot of people around the world have dealt with that. At the time, I didn't know. I thought we were the only people in the world who went through that. Nobody in our family had told us about their prior experiences, no friends. It's kind of this secret that's kept.

"So when we found out about our situation, we just decided to share it with the world, because it might help somebody else. As long as it helped one person—somebody else in my family ended up having a child loss, but because we shared our experience, they were able to get over the hump and talk about it. They reached out to us. A lot of NFL people after that reached out to my wife and I and used us as a resource and asked questions and just got love from us. And that's what the NFL is about, I think—helping each other."

When she was 28 weeks pregnant with Marae, Morgan opened up on Instagram, offering her support to those who have endured similar tragedy: "It was hard to see myself ever reaching this point in the future… To all the women out there struggling with incompetent cervix, infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, DON'T EVER GIVE UP! You're blessing are coming, just continue to keep your faith, be strong, and walk with God throughout your entire journey. Don't be embarrassed to share your story because your story can definitely help another woman or couple struggling through this journey as well."

The Goodwins will never be able to fully appreciate the impact they have made, they'll never know how many grieving couples took comfort in the simple yet powerful knowledge that they aren't alone in their pain, but without question their willingness to be so vulnerable has made a profound difference.

"They're great people," said Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs, who was teammates with Goodwin at Texas. "I went to school with both of them; Mo was there when I was there too. They're top-of-the-line people. The things they went through—it's super special that they were able to have the opportunity, after all the hardships they went through before, to come out with the blessing of their two kids now—but being able to speak about it, that takes guts. It takes a lot to be able to do that, and I'm sure it helped a lot of people around the world."

For his part, Goodwin recognizes that his status as an NFL player and a former Olympic long jumper helped bring more attention to their story, but Morgan, herself an All-American hurdler at Texas, is the real hero in this story.

"Super amazing strength for my wife, being a professional athlete, and having to sacrifice her body, her whole life for childbirth, and then, we end up losing the kids, and her still having to put that face on and be strong," Goodwin said. "Women, they don't get enough credit for the things that they go through, the changes that their bodies go through just to keep this world going. So I give so much praise to my wife."

"He just has a lot in his makeup."

When Quandre Diggs first arrived at Texas, he quickly came to admire Goodwin, who is two years older, and in the spirit of imitating his teammate, Diggs not only did things like sit next to Goodwin in class, he also made the mistake one day of attempting to join Goodwin for an ab workout.

"I did abs with him one day, and that was the last time I ever did it," Diggs recalled with a chuckle. "His ab routine was crazy."

And sure enough, more than a decade later, Goodwin could be spotted in practice doing a rather intense variation of crunches between plays in practice. And when he does line up at receiver, the 31-year-old Goodwin still explodes off the line of scrimmage and takes off with a level of speed that is rare, even by NFL standards.

Marquise and Morgan's heartbreaking story, and their willingness to share it with the world, will undoubtedly be most important legacy when all is said and done, but it was his rare physical traits that put Goodwin in the spotlight to begin with. A two-sport athlete at Texas, Goodwin was talented enough on the football field to eventually become a third-round pick of the Bills in the 2013 draft, and he was explosive enough in track to represent the U.S. in the 2012 Olympics in the long jump.

"He's a special, special person, a special player," Diggs said. "That's my guy… The way he works out in the offseason, the way he trains—he does track workouts in the offseason—his body is always in tip-top shape."

Over time, Goodwin has gone from playing more like a track athlete dabbling in football to becoming a complete receiver. For Diggs, having an almost decade-long gap between stints as teammates has illustrated Goodwin's growth as a receiver.

"It's totally different," Diggs said. "At Texas, we always used to just play off and say, 'Make him beat us on anything shorter than the go-ball.' And now you see him running comebacks, getting in and out of his breaks, running outs and digs. It's just the maturation process that he went through. He's been in the game for a while, and he's learned a lot, and he still has that speed."

A big factor in Goodwin's decision to sign with Seattle was the presence of Sanjay Lal, the team's offensive passing game coordinator and receivers coach, and for two seasons in Buffalo, Goodwin's position coach early in his career with the Bills. Lal, like Diggs, sees in Goodwin a more polished receiver than the player he coached in 2015 and 2016. Oddly enough, it was an ankle injury early in his Bills career that helped Goodwin improve as a receiver under Lal.

"He was so fast, but he had not found his route speed yet," Lal said of the earlier version of Goodwin he coached. "And then one day he turned his ankle in the middle of a practice, went in, got it taped up, came back out and was like, 'I can't run full speed, but I'm going to go.' I told him, 'This is perfect. Can you come off the ball with three hard steps?' He was like, 'Yes, but I can't hit my top end.' And I said, 'Perfect. Run your routes like that today." And he had one of his best practices. I told him, 'That's the speed you need to run your routes with.' After that it kind of clicked like 'OK, I can come off (the line of scrimmage), and then depending on the route, I can govern my speed while still creating the illusion of speed. So it was really fun to see him develop in that way."

Goodwin's play in camp this year backs up everything Lal and Diggs said about him, and it's why, despite sitting out the 2020 season and having relatively quiet seasons with the 49ers and Bears bookending that year off, he has looked every bit like a player who can make big contributions to the Seahawks in 2022.

"He's really been one of the real highlights at camp," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said earlier in camp before Goodwin's hamstring injury. "His speed shows up all the time. His consistency as a route runner. He just has a lot in his makeup as a guy in the room with the other younger players. He's got leadership qualities about him because he does stuff right all the time. He's really disciplined about the things he's doing. He's been really steady. He's been very productive."

And as Goodwin works his way back into action looking to finish strong and secure his role in the offense, he'll do so knowing that he can lean on the lessons he has learned going through much with Morgan, from the loss of three babies born prematurely, to the joy of raising Marae and Marquise Jr.

"I got through the journey just by God, honestly," he said. "Coming into fatherhood taught me to be patient and to really relish the moment, like not think too far ahead, not focus on stuff in the past, and really be in the moment. I kind of brought that to football, especially in the last few years after I became a parent. Just being where my feet are and focusing on the time now as opposed to mishaps or even good stuff that has happened in the past. It was the past and I can't think too far ahead."

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