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Former Syracuse football great Markus Paul dies at 54

Markus Paul, who played defensive back for Syracuse from 1984 to 1988, died from a heart attack on Wednesday evening. He was 54.

Paul holds Syracuse’s program record with 19 career interceptions. The All-American safety starred on Syracuse’s undefeated 1987 team. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round of the 1989 NFL Draft and played five seasons. Later as a strength and conditioning coach, he won four Super Bowls — three with the New England Patriots and one with the New York Giants.

Paul was rushed to the hospital on Tuesday morning for a medical emergency, and false reports of his death circulated. He was pronounced brain dead later that day.

An outpouring of love and support on social media from the Syracuse community followed, as well as various NFL teams Paul coached and played for. Bill Belichick and Ron Rivera both opened press conferences by sending thoughts to Paul’s family.

Most recently, Paul coached the Dallas Cowboys, where he was promoted to head strength and conditioning coach last January.

“Our hearts are broken for his family and all of the individuals whose lives he touched and made better,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement.

Randy Edsall, who coached Paul and the defensive backs at Syracuse, told Paul should be remembered as one of the best DBs in program history. Paul was a two-time finalist for the Jim Thorpe award — given to the nation’s best defensive back — and was also named to Syracuse’s All-Century team in 1999.