Arizona Cardinals: Next Man Up, Get To Know Markus Golden


From the Shadows a Golden Light Burns Bright

Light cannot be stopped, it cannot be destroyed. Light can be blocked, it can be cloaked in shadow but it will remain steadfast until barriers break down as long of the source of the light stays true. Markus Golden is no different. He faced academic and monetary challenges. He found himself slotted behind some of the best defensive football players in the country. He faced some of the stoutest offensive lines in college football. He stayed true, broke down barriers and now has the opportunity shine on football’s biggest stage.

Markus Golden’s Passion

From a young age, Markus Golden knew he would be a Missouri Tiger. He was in seventh grade when he watched his older brother Sherman receive an offer to play football for Mizzou.

“When my brother got that offer…that’s what made me want to come to Mizzou,” Markus said.

It lit a fire inside of him, a fire that would not be extinguished by the peer pressures of the St. Louis streets. Markus’ mother Rhonda Golden would not allow her son to succumb to such the temptations.

“We lived in a bad neighborhood but [I] always told Markus he needed to be a leader,” Rhonda recalled. “You don’t let somebody come tell you, ‘Come sell drugs.’ If you do that, you’re being a follower. I’d say, tell them, ‘Hey, why don’t you come play basketball with me?’

Like any good son, Markus recognized that strength that his mother exuded.

“My mom was going to push me and wasn’t going to let me quit, so I had to make it,” he said.

This admiration for his mother gave Markus both strength but it also gave him stress. He used that strength to transform into an outstanding high school running back and linebacker but the stresses of society weighed heavy. He saw his mom working and struggling to make end’s meat. Consequently, his grades suffered and he lashed out.

“He was getting into fights and arguments,” Rhonda remarked. “He just wasn’t happy. … It’s like he hated the world.”

A few months later, in spring 2008, he was expelled from school for a semester.

I play for my family I don’t just play for myself. I got a lot of family members watching me so I got to look good out there.

Markus’ older brother Sherman reflected on that time. “He learned what it felt like to lose everything, but he came back stronger than ever, and that’s what we see today.”

Markus recommitted himself and returned to his school and his football program. As a high school senior, he crushed the ball carriers with 100 tackles and rushed for more than 2,200 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Markus Golden’s Perseverance

Despite a stellar senior season, his academia left him on the outside looking in. He did not get that offer from Mizzou.

Again, he committed himself and went to junior college. He thrived as a freshman at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, racking up 90 tackles, 26 for a loss and 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and two interceptions and the Missouri tigers finally called home for that recruitment visit.

“Markus walked from the tunnel out onto the middle of the field,” Rhonda said. “He became so emotional. He was jumping up and down and yelling, ‘Ma, I’m going to play here. I promise I’m going to play here on this field.’”

Two years passed and again Markus stood on the 50-yard line of Faurot Field gazing up at the roaring crowds of the Mizzou football nation. He proudly adorned the black and yellow with a capital letter “C” emblazoned on his chest. He pushed through academic road blocks and proved he could play more than second-fiddle to Missouri football stars Michael Sam, Kony Ealy and Shane Ray.

His pride, passion and perseverance led him to that point, captain of the Missouri Tigers. He fulfilled his childhood dream.

When you put on them pads, it don’t matter how tall you is, it don’t matter how long your arms is. All that matters is that you going to go out there and make plays… for your team to win the game.

Markus Golden’s Future

Phase one complete and now Markus embarks on a new quest, this one on a bigger stage. The Arizona Cardinals selected him in the second round with the 58th pick overall in the NFL draft. Scouts and analysts around the league cast a shadow of doubt. They say he is too small, they say his arms are too short, they say he cannot transition to the big leagues.

Markus has a coaching staff and front-office that believes in him. He has a mentor and long-time friend in Sean Weatherspoon. He’s come this far and now the question remains, will he be a dominant force for the Arizona Cardinals pass rush? If his passion continues to burn and his skill sets continue to grow then Golden will shine bright.

Special thanks to for the great feature they did on Markus Golden back in 2014.

More from Raising Zona