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How Marquise Goodwin's sister motivated him to become one of the NFL's fastest players

Goodwin committed himself to maximizing his speed because of an emotional memory with his younger sister


Marquise Goodwin's biggest motivation toward being one of the fastest human beings in the world comes from a memory with his sister, Deja, that he'll never forget.

When Goodwin was in middle school, he was woken up one night by Deja, who is 10 months younger than Goodwin and is unable to walk due to cerebral palsy. Goodwin could tell she was in distress, so he moved closer to hear what she was saying.

God, just please, please let me feel what it feels like to walk. I just want my feet to touch the ground.

Goodwin's voice was filled with enthusiasm Wednesday when he recalled the memory with local reporters. The question posed to him?

How has he been able to remain so passionate about playing both football and track?

"That's my motivation," Goodwin said. "I'd be doing her a disservice if I were to not go and maximize my sport ability. If I'm not out running, jumping, catching footballs and just sitting around and being lazy and complaining, I'd be doing her a disservice."

Deja is still stoking Goodwin's drive 10 years into his NFL career, which has led him to his fifth NFL home with the Browns. Goodwin, signed in free agency this offseason, had also been a track star growing up — he competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics and set the national high school record in long jump distance at 8.18 meters, a record that still stands.

Now 32 years old, Goodwin's speedy abilities have been hard to miss through the first two weeks of the Browns' organized team activities.

He opened the 7-on-7 period by catching a deep pass from QB Deshaun Watson, which happened after Goodwin raced past the defense and found open space near the end zone.

In the next period, Goodwin beat the secondary again and managed to cling to another deep ball from Watson as he flipped near the out of bounds paint.

"I think I'm pretty much in my prime, so I don't think I've lost any speed," Goodwin said with a smile. "Kind of like fine wine, you just get better with time."

Check out the best photos from all the action at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus as the Browns go through organized team activities

NFL opportunities haven't stopped coming for Goodwin since he was drafted by the Bills in the third round in 2013. The selection came after he clocked a lightning-quick 4.27 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, tied for the ninth-fastest time ever.

His biggest source of motivation hasn't stopped giving him fuel, either.

In his third year with the Bills, Deja was living with Goodwin when another emotional memory occurred. It started when Goodwin showed her a picture of herself and asked who was in the photo.

"She was like, 'That's mama,'" Goodwin said. "I was like, 'No, who is this?' She said, 'That's mama.' It was a picture of her, and she didn't know."

Goodwin was confused and asked her how she couldn't identify herself.

"I can't see myself," she told him. Goodwin realized she hadn't been able to position herself in front of a mirror because of her cerebral palsy.

So he went to a store, bought a massive mirror and put it in front of her.

"I picked her up, and I was just weeping and bawling because my sister at the time was 25, and she had never seen herself in the mirror," Goodwin said.

Goodwin's career began to ascend in the years after that moment. Injuries hampered his availability his first three years in the league, but he set career-highs with 29 catches for 431 yards and three touchdowns in his fourth and final season with Buffalo.

That led him to San Francisco, where he exploded with 56 catches for 962 yards and two touchdowns with the 49ers in 2017. His 17.2 yards per reception ranked third in the NFL and punctuated his ability to blow past defenders with his speed.

That year remains the best in Goodwin's career, but he's managed to catch four touchdowns in a season twice since then— he did it first in 2018 and again with the Seahawks in 2022.

Now, Goodwin is hoping to build another big year in Cleveland, where he's needed little time to showcase a strong connection with Watson.

"It's really humbling to work with someone as elite as Deshaun," Goodwin said. "I don't really have to guess or wonder if he's going to throw it far enough. I look in the air, and I'm like, 'Dang, I've got to run.'"

Goodwin has proven to be excellent at that, and as he prepares for another season in a different NFL uniform, he'll always turn back to his sister as a reason to never stop.

"It adds perspective for me," Goodwin said. "I have no excuses."

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