Clemson Tiger Football: A Class Act For Reaching Out To Mark Herzlich
Since it didn't have to do with a pro athlete committing a crime or a college athlete punching somebody in the face, you probably missed this story unless you are a Clemson or Boston College fan.
Mark Herzlich, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC, was diagnosed in May with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, in his left leg.
This past Saturday, the Tigers and Eagles played at Death Valley, and the Clemson Tiger football team presented Mark with a jersey, signed by the whole team.
Here is a letter from Mark's father to the Clemson faithful.
Dear Clemson Fans:
First—My son is Mark Herzlich, the BC linebacker recovering from Cancer. The entire Tiger Nation should be proud of the complete class your entire program carries itself with. I wear a copy of Mark's jersey to games and I lost track of the number of Clemson fans who approached me to wish him well and to say that they were praying for him. These are people who don't know me, don't know Mark and have little reason to even be aware of his situation yet were both aware and involved enough to say some kind words. Thank you.
Second, for those who missed it, prior to the game Coach Swinney presented Mark with a Clemson jersey signed by the whole team with Mark's #94 on it. I've never seen such an outstanding and unsolicited display of sportsmanship.
Finally, throughout the weekend the major topic of conversation outside football was the graciousness of the Clemson fan base. All of us commented on how welcoming everyone was, both before and after the game. I've been to Clemson before and interacted with Clemson fans in Boston so I wasn't suprised any more but I was glad to see my friends get the message too. There was absolutely no lack of support or fanatacism for Clemson football but it was all wrapped up in an understanding that competing doesn't mean hating, that you need an opponent to play a game and that there's a difference between an opponent and an enemy. My younger son, who's used to the whole us versus them attitude in a lot of fan bases turned to play a game and that there's a difference between an opponent and an enemy. My younger son, who's used to the whole us versus them attitude in a lot of fan bases turned to me at one point and said, "you just can't hate these guys!"
Clemson continues to be my favorite road trip. I always root for Boston College to go undefeated and win the ACC, but in the years that it can't be us, I hope it's you.
If you're going to be a bear—be a grizzly!
Here's hoping to see Mark on the field next year.
If only stories like this were considered "news".
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