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Markus Golden's turning point that put him on the path to NFL stardom

Markus Golden has earned a lot over last ten years or so. Like most things in life it all began with a decision

ST. LOUIS — New York Giants edge rusher Markus Golden cashed in on an official scoring change this past offseason. But it was a different kind of decision made by the Affton High grad that he looks to as his turning point.

Back in December he was credited with a half-sack of Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins; that put his total at nine-and-a-half for the season, just shy of the number that would kick in a million dollar bonus.

The league office goes back through each game to look for oversights – statistical and otherwise. In Golden’s case the league found that he didn’t share in the sack of Haskins, but rather, he should have gotten full credit. And so, with the additional half-sack his total hit ten and the seven-figure bonus kicked in.

“I earned it,” Golden said, according to ESPN.

In his case, Markus Golden has earned a lot over last ten years or so. Like most things in life it began with a decision.

Watch: Markus Golden talks about his million dollar sack, and the turning point in his life

He faced temptation like most teenagers. Temptation was winning and he dropped out of Affton High after his sophomore year. He was headed to an alternative school, one that would not help him if he had any thought of a career in the NFL. He had the athleticism and he had the dynamic personality, but he was missing the road map to success.

“I was immature as a person,” Golden remembers. “A young kid thinking I knew everything, but as a kid, you know, you don’t know as much as you think.”

Time for parental intervention.

His mother, Rhonda Golden and his father, Markus Eberhart, expressed disappointment in their son and told him they wanted and expected more. Many kids turn away from that message and continue doing what kids do, and then worse. With young Markus Golden, the message took.

It is said that a goal is only a wish until it is written down. And that’s exactly what he did. With his mother’s help, he began planning a life course that began with becoming an Affton Cougar again. He also followed his inner voice.

“I just remember telling myself, “Man, I’ve got to be motivated. I’m better than being the kid that’s going to get in trouble," Golden said.

He blazed a trail with his legs on both sides of the football. He set a school record for tackles as a junior linebacker while running for 16 touchdowns on offense. He really served notice as a senior, running for over two thousand yards and upping his touchdown count to 30. The road to Division One had a detour through Hutchinson Junior College, but then in 2012 he made it to Columbia. He made his first impact with the Tigers on special teams but before long he was in the rotation on the defensive line. By his senior year he was named second team All-SEC and was the MVP of the Tigers’ 2015 Citrus Bowl win over Minnesota.

His obvious skills rushing the passer, along with his intangible leadership skills got his name called on the second day of that spring’s NFL Draft.  As an Arizona Cardinal he enjoyed a 12.5 sack season in 2016, but then tore his ACL, shortening his 2017 season. After only 2.5 sacks in 2018, the Cardinals let Golden become a free agent. He has maintained a simple philosophy: hunt quarterbacks.

“That’s the thing about me, man,” he explained in 2016. I don’t weary, I ain’t gonna fold, I don’t complain or none of that. I’m going to keep hunting like I always do. That’s what I do.”

Throughout his NFL career, Golden has come back to head up summer football camps at his alma mater. He is not high atop a tower or off in some distant corner while the kids are taught by others. He is as engaging to a young football player as a 6’3, 260-pound pass rusher can be and puts himself in the middle of all the drills. The daily mission Golden’s mother drilled into her son was one he didn’t stop once he left Affton High: talk to someone new every day.

His 2019 season has set Markus Golden up for a, what else, golden payday come March.

He’ll be a free agent again, and rushers who can cause double-digit havoc in opposing backfields are always in demand. Golden has proven he’s back after his injury and recovery. He should make more than the four million he made with the Giants, but whatever decision he makes he’ll remember how it was set up by the life-altering decision he made to listen to his parents.

When he was asked how his life would have turned out had he chosen other options, Golden does what he usually does. He thinks of others.

“If I didn’t do that, it ain’t even more about my life but the people that I care about," Golden said. “I can’t take all the credit but I worked hard and I’m blessed to be at where I am today.”

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