More Than Just A Touch Down

8 Feb

This year’s Super Bowl was especially exciting to watch. Maybe because Madonna performed at the half time show or maybe it was the new commercial featuring Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller. I can tell you it definitely WAS NOT because of the New York Giants win over the New England Patriots.

One thing I have always enjoyed when watching any sporting event is the back story of the players. I often find that we declare our love and hate for people without really knowing anything more than their batting average or how many yards they average per game.  This brings me to Mark Herzlich, a linebacker for the Giants.

Mark Herzlich started at Boston College in 2006 where he excelled on the football field. In 2008 (his junior year) Herzlich was a First-team All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Butkus Award, and a quarter-finalist for the Lott Trophy. In November 2008, Herzlich was ranked as the 45th best prospect for the 2009 NFL Draft but announced his return to Boston College for the 2009 season. While all of this is quite impressive, it doesn’t really interest me as much as the fact that Herzlich is a cancer survivor.

In 2009 Herzlich was diagnosed with Erwing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. Herzlich was treated with aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. He was then given two choices. Choice #1, continue with radiation and chemotherapy and risk the possibility that his cancer would return.  Choice #2: have leg surgery. Having surgery would significantly decrease his odds of the cancer returning but it would also eliminate his NFL dreams, as the surgery would not allow for him to continue playing football.

Herzlich decided to forgo surgery and keep his football dream alive.  He continued with chemotherapy and radiation. On September 29, 2009, Mark announced that he was cancer free. In 2010 he returned to Boston College to play football and started in all 13 games However, he wasn’t drafted to the NFL.

Not surprisingly, Herzlich didn’t give up on his dream and continued training and eventually signed as a free agent with the New York Giants for the 2011-2012 season.

Unfortunately, during the season, Herzlich injured his ankle which benched him for the rest of the season. This doesn’t seem to have dampened Herzlich’s spirits. On January 30 he tweeted, “2 yrs ago I was told I’d never walk again, Just WALKED off plane to #Indy to play in #SuperBowl #Take That sh*tCancer”.

So although I am devastated by the Pats loss, I have to admit I am happy for Herzlich who achieved his remarkable dream, despite a cancer diagnosis.  [i] [ii] [iii]

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2 Responses to “More Than Just A Touch Down”

  1. Tyler February 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Awesome post!

  2. Laraine levy February 9, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    Thank you for the inspirational story. It reminds me of the beautiful spirit that my daughter has. Btw. She reported this story

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