Simply due to the adversity that Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich had to overcome, it’s somewhat surprising that he didn’t get an opportunity in the NFL draft’s late rounds.
In proving that he’s got the drive, willpower and stamina to beat the odds, subsequently beating cancer, Herzlich won his battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
And after more than eight months of painful chemotherapy and laborious rehabilitation, Herzlich returned to the practice field with his Eagles teammates.
All the hard work and long hours had paid off and Herzlich made the long journey back to the Boston College starting lineup. And after starting in all 13 games, not only did he finish with a team third-best 65 tackles, but he earned the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award and also won the Rudy Award.
Although Herzlich’s story is inspirational and moving, it’s important to note that the NFL is a big-business league and most teams aren’t willing to take a chance on someone based solely on perseverance.
However, it must be reminded to teams that prior to the discovery, and subsequent beat-down Herzlich put on cancer, he was one heck of a football player.
The best defender, in fact, in the ACC in 2008, as he was awarded the league’s Player of the Year Award.
He was also a Butkis Award finalist, a Lott Trophy finalist and an All-American (third-team by the Associated Press and a first-teamer as ranked by Rivals.com and Scouts.com).
For the kind of player he was before the cancer, and the kind of person he came as a result of overcoming the disease, I wouldn’t count a player like Herzlich out for long.