Buffalo Bills’ receiver Marquise Goodwin is also known for his ability in the long jump, competing for the University of Texas in track as well as football and representing the U.S. in the 2012 Olympics before he was picked in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft. Being a multi-sport athlete in college is one thing, but those multi-sport dreams go away for most once they make the NFL. That’s not the case for Goodwin, though, who has continued to excel at the long jump and won silver in last summer’s Pan Am Games in Toronto. Goodwin hopes to make August’s Rio Olympics, but to do so, he’ll have to turn in a strong showing in the July 1-10 U.S. Olympic Trials in Oregon. In aid of that, he’s attending the Bills’ mandatory minicamp this week, but isn’t participating in drills. Here’s a report from WIVB 4 sports director Josh Reed on Goodwin’s situation:
Goodwin is no faint-hoper; in addition to his previous Olympic experience and his Pan-Am medal, he has the best long jump notched in the world during this calendar year. He’s been training hard for the Olympics for months, and while that and his comments about preferring track to football have some Bills’ fans worried, Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan has been quite supportive:
“I think it’s fantastic. I mean it’s just a special thing obviously for him but a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” Rex Ryan said. “He’s representing himself but even more so he’s representing our country and our community. I’m proud of the fact that he plays for the Buffalo Bills so when he’s out there doing the long-jump, that’s our guy.”
That’s an enlightened attitude for a football coach, and a pretty rare one in the NFL, where football’s often expected to come first, second, and third for players. For his part, Goodwin said Ryan’s support was key to him pursuing this, and he thinks he’ll be able to quickly transition back to football this fall:
“I am an athlete at the end of the day and my job is to be fast and stay healthy and make plays when given the chance. I am in another sport right now but I am active. It is not like I am at home sitting on the couching eating potato chips.”
Goodwin makes a valid point there, and the idea of cross-training has some merit; while uberspecialization has become a trend for many recent athletes, there’s plenty to suggest that skills and techniques learned in one sport can transfer over to another. Plenty of athletes have excelled in both football and track, including Jim Thorpe and “Bullet” Bob Hayes, so there’s precedent here too. We’ll see how well Goodwin’s Olympic quest goes, but it will be certainly be interesting to see a modern NFL player trying to make the Olympic team.