By:  J. Daniel Pearson for Positively Osceola
Photos provided by J. Daniel Pearson

A tribute to one of Osceola High School’s greatest legends was updated on Tuesday afternoon with the placement of a Markus Paul Memorial Display in school’s gymnasium.   The display case, which includes photos of Markus, along with helmets representing the teams he played for and coached with, was unveiled in a ceremony attended by schools officials, athletes and the Markus Paul family.

Paul was the starting quarterback for the Kowboys from 1982-83. As a junior, he led Osceola to the state championship game.   He was also a starter on Ed Kershner’s 1982-83 Osceola basketball team that went 37-0 and is widely regarded as one of the best high school basketball teams in Florida prep history.

After a stellar athletic career at Osceola, Paul went on to become a first-team Defensive Back All-American at Syracuse – where he set the school record for career interceptions (19).  He was named to the schools’ All-Century Team and was later inducted in the Syracuse Athletic Hall of Fame.

He would go on to a lengthy career in the NFL, playing mainly for the Chicago Bears but also spending a year with the Tampa Bay Bucs.  Following his retirement, Paul spent 21 seasons in the NFL as a strength coach, spending time as an assistant with New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, and New York Jets.  In 2018, he was named head strength and conditioning coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  During his career, he would earn five Super Bowl rings.  

Paul would tragically pass away from a heart attack in 2020 at the Cowboys training facility.

Osceola honored his memory in October of 2021, officially naming is football facility Markus Paul Stadium.  The unveiling of the memorial display on Tuesday was a continuation of the plan to honor Paul. 

“This final part of the Markus Paul Memorial took a little longer than planned, but there were several factors we wanted to make sure we got just right.  The contents, the overall look of the display, its placement were all vitally important to us,” Osceola Athletics Director Rick Tribit said.  “In addition to being a football star, Markus was a starter on 1980 undefeated state championship team –so placing it inside the gym where it would be highly visible seemed to be the right destination.”

Tribit added that it was a mission of his to keep the memory of Paul and other Kowboy greats in the minds of all current and future Kowboy athletes.  “Although our current players were not even born when Markus played in the NFL, it’s important that they know and respect our history because it was legends like Markus that set the standard and paved the way for them,” Tribit added.  “His entire playing and coaching career was dedicated to doing the things the right way and to lift those around them to be better.  Those values were important back then and they still are today.”

After his death and during the stadium dedication, tributes poured in for Paul.  

“Markus earned the players’ respect and attention because he cared so much and was a naturally gifted communicator — both on the personal and professional levels.  He handled every situation, sometimes with a smile and a pat on the back, and sometimes with tough love. He had an innate toughness in a job that requires that quality, and he was admired throughout the NFL by his peers and the players he coached. It was a privilege to work with him as a coach and laugh with him as a friend,” Dallas Cowboy Head Coach Mike McCarty said.

Doug Nichols, who retired as Osceola’s football coach in 2022, had this to say about Paul and the impact he had on the program.  “He was before my time so I never had the privilege of seeing him play,” Nichols said. “But he still had a tremendous impact on Kowboys football. He generously continued to donate to the team, both financially and with his time throughout the years. We have a saying here….’Once a Kowboy, Always A Kowboy’ and that certainly applies to Markus.”

At Tuesday’s unveiling, the family also said they were honored that Paul’s memory will live on.  “Markus spent his entire life in a positive mode — lifting the spirits of those around them and helping them become the best they could be.  Although he reached the highest levels of college and professional football, he never forgot his roots,” his father Isaiah Paul said.  “He loved Florida, he loved Kissimmee, he loved Osceola High School and he loved the Kowboys football family.  The love the school has shown back to him is greatly appreciated.”

Paul’s mantra of lifting up and giving back to others has extended well beyond his life.  The Markus Paul Foundation provides annual scholarships to an Osceola High School football player, a Syracuse walk-on athlete and also makes an annual donation to the Boys & Girls Club in Kissimmee.   Those wishing to learn more about the Markus Paul Foundation or want to donate to support the foundation, can do so at: