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Steve Novotney Says, "He's Headed to Houston"

A pro basketball player, that's what CJ Goodwin dreamed of becoming when attending The Linsly School. He didn't even play for Cadet Head Coach B.J. Depew until his senior season, and that's only because he made a deal with a classmate.

So he played football, and Goodwin was good, but he remained focused on a hoops career. After being graduated from Linsly, in 2008 he opted for Bethany College and was a Bison basketball player for two seasons before realizing he wanted a larger college environment than what the small, secluded liberal arts college could offer.

Goodwin's next stop on his personal, three-college tour was Fairmont State, and initially his intention was to be a student only. He did join an intramural basketball team, and ironically that is what ultimately led him to next Sunday's Super Bowl.

"I was playing a game against the football team's staff, and that's when the head coach told me I should be playing for him," Goodwin explained. "So I played and did pretty well as a receiver, but then the coach was let go and got a job at California University of Pennsylvania. So, that's where I went next."

He played sparingly, though, but the coaching staff recognized his skill and invited him to the university's pro day, an event that attracted at least 16 NFL scouts. Goodwin did well again running the fastest 40-time and registering a 38-inch vertical leap.

People noticed, and it was the Pittsburgh Steelers that called first thanks to a Mel-Blount-to-Mr. Rooney phone call, but he was on "the bubble," and a minor injury cost him his spot. Goodwin remained determined, worked even harder, tried out for the Atlanta Falcons, and earned another shot.

And on Sunday, he will play in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots following an 11-5 regular season and postseason victories over Seattle and the Packers. Goodwin has evolved into a special teams specialist along the way, and also he lines up in the Falcons' defensive secondary in certain schemes.

So, yes, we will see No. 29 on the field battling for the Lombardi Trophy.

Win or lose, though, Goodwin then will come home to Wheeling. The Linsly graduate (Class of 2008) has another year on his contract with Atlanta and knows his football future hangs in the balance, so after a brief rest and time with his family Goodwin will get back to work. He, of course, wishes to stick in the NFL and continue living the unlikely life of a man who played the game just one season in high school and two years at a pair of universities.

"I didn't see me here," Goodwin admitted last week. "But I am here now and trying to make the most of it and make my family and my hometown proud."

Pretty sure that's true already.

Categories: Commentary