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Marshall Goldberg’s daughter gives blessing to J.J. Watt

Because of Marshall Goldberg's daughter Ellen, J.J. Watt will get to wear the number he's worn his entire career. We spoke to Ellen Goldberg about her decision.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The number worn by Ring of Honor member Marshall Goldberg, will be unretired by the team with Goldberg’s daughter’s blessing.

J.J. Watt will be the first Cardinals player in more than 70 years to wear the number 99.

“The fact that [Watt] was a great player was a given, but then finding out that he was a really good guy and a good person, it just took it so much further because my dad was too,” said Ellen Goldberg Tullos. “He was just a wonderful person and it just seemed like there was synergy to the whole thing.”

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Watt spoke about his appreciation for the Goldberg family’s gesture.

“I’m very honored and touched that they thought of me in that way,” said Watt. “I told (Ellen) that I’d do everything in my power to honor him and to make him proud and to make his legacy proud.”

Ellen felt her dad would have wanted Watt to wear the number.

“I just couldn’t imagine him thinking, well that number is mine and it should stay locked up somewhere forever, that just wasn’t who he was.”

That begs the question, who was Marshall Goldberg?

“He stood out by his abilities,” said Ellen. “He ran fast, he tackled hard, he stood out in everything he did, but he was really a team player.”

Goldberg was an All-American at The University of Pittsburgh before getting drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in 1939, and was a running back and defensive back in the NFL.

“He couldn’t catch a break, he was needed on the field all the time.”

Midway through his NFL career, duty called, and he joined the Navy during World War II.

“All of a sudden we were in the middle of a war, so he enlisted in the Navy and worked in the Navy until the war was over, and then he turned around came back to the Cardinals and they won a championship.”

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Goldberg was a part of the Cardinals last championship team in 1947 and retired a year later,  but he forever remained a Cardinals fan, even after the team moved to St. Louis and eventually to Arizona. 

But, the most important detail about Marshall Goldberg is that man that he was. 

“Everybody wanted to be with him because he was just a friendly kind of guy and everyone loved him,” said Ellen. “I'm sure J.J. is going to do his very best for the Cardinals and I really honestly believe he’s going to do great for dad’s memory.”

Unfortunately, Goldberg suffered traumatic brain injury during his playing days. There is a foundation in his name, The Marshall Goldberg Traumatic Brain injury Fund through the University of Illinois Chicago with the goal of bringing attention to head injuries in athletes. 

Watt promised to make a donation to that foundation.