Golden, a second-round pick (58th overall) in the 2015 draft, started at outside linebacker in both playoff games for the Cardinals in his rookie season.
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“I haven’t been back since,” he said.
The latest episode of the documentary series recaps Arizona’s rise to the NFL’s best record through 11 games. It also provides a peek into Cardinals practices and shares some mic’d-up moments along the sidelines.
Camera crews caught up with Golden inside the Cardinals training facility on October 29, just one day after Arizona’s first loss of the season.
“I’ll probably think about the game a little bit from yesterday, think about what I could have done better,” he said as he settled into a tub to help his body recover from the 24-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
“You’ve got to be real with yourself,” said Golden, 30. “You’ve got to watch the film and see what you did wrong, and understand that you need to get it better. If it’s something that hurt the team, be hard on yourself to get it better and fix it.”
Now in his seventh NFL season and second stint with Arizona, Golden reflected on the Cardinals’ playoff run in 2015 and revealed what he’s been doing to help end a five-year postseason drought.
He also continues to be motivated by a little advice from Cardinals QB Carson Palmer during one of those playoff games.
“I remember Carson Palmer pulled me to the side as a rookie and said, ‘Hey, Markus, make sure you enjoy this because it’ll probably never happen again,’ ” Golden said.
It’s one of the reasons Golden says he takes every day and every moment seriously.
“I always hear Carson’s voice telling me, ‘You might never get to do this again.’ Right now this season, I’m in a position to do this again,” he said.
The Cardinals are a statistical lock to make the playoffs, with FiveThirtyEight listing their odds at greater than 99%. But making the playoffs isn’t Golden’s only goal.
“I want to be able to put us in a position to go to the playoffs and be able to compete to go to the Super Bowl,” he said. “At the end of the season, you’ll get your break when it’s all over. But right now, it’s all about trying to get a ring. That’s the focus.”
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‘Meant to Be an Arizona Cardinal’
Golden is having a productive and profitable season, leading the team and ranking sixth in the NFL with 10 sacks — including three against the San Francisco 49ers on November 7.
“I’m huntin’ every play,” he said after the game. “If the quarterback drops back to pass that ball, I’m huntin’.”
Hitting the 10-sack mark earned him a $500,000 incentive under terms of the two-year, $5 million deal he signed in March, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. It’s the most sacks in a season for Golden since he had 10 for the New York Giants in 2019.
Golden had a career-best 12.5 sacks with Arizona in 2016. If he tops that this season with lucky 13, he’ll earn another $1 million, Yates reported.
Golden played two seasons with the Giants before returning to the Cardinals via trade. Arizona gave up a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to bring back the former Missouri star.
Following another big game (two sacks and a forced fumble) against the Houston Texans on October 24, Golden let fans know just how happy he is to be back in Arizona.
“That was the best day of my life, me getting drafted here. Then the second best day of my life was me getting traded back here,” he told Cardinals reporter Dani Sureck. “I feel like I’m meant to be an Arizona Cardinal.”
‘I’m Always Thinking About Making Plays’
Back inside the Cardinals training facility, Golden championed the team’s 1-0 mentality while also acknowledging Arizona’s Super Bowl aspirations. He utilizes moments like the hot tub rehab to focus on his goals.
“[I’m] thinking about who I’m going to be playing, thinking about making plays,” Golden said. “I’m always thinking about making plays and trying to stay positive no matter what.”
Positive thinking is more than an exercise in the Cardinals organization. As former Cardinals safety Quentin Harris noted at an all-staff meeting at the close of training camp September 10, positive energy can fuel success.
“Everybody who knows me knows I’m super positive, and I feed off positive energy,” said Harris, now the team’s vice president of player personnel, in the latest episode of “Cardinals Flight Plan.”
“I’m just asking everyone [to] take 10 seconds a day in the morning and just think about that feeling of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy up,” he said. “Visualize the energy, the excitement. Harness it [and] bring it to work with you every day, because positive energy is infectious. … It’s going to permeate throughout the building and then permeate throughout the valley.”