USA Today Sports

Biggest Comebacks: Mark Herzlich beats cancer, goes on to NFL career

Scott McLaughlin
November 29, 2018 - 12:06 pm

Following his junior season at Boston College, Mark Herzlich appeared to have it all. He was a 2008 First Team All-American, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and a projected NFL first-round pick if he chose to leave college early (he announced shortly after the season that he would return to BC for his senior year, though). 

Just a few months later, football would be the furthest thing from Herzlich’s mind. On May 14, 2009, he announced that he had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Doctors told him he’d never play football again and might never walk again. There was a chance the disease could kill him.

After several months of treatment, Herzlich announced on Sept. 29 that he was cancer free. He missed the entire 2009 season as he continued to recover and rehab, but by the start of the 2010 season he was ready to play football again.

The dreams of being a first-round pick were gone, but Herzlich played well enough in his senior season at BC to get signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent.

Herzlich won a Super Bowl with the Giants as a rookie in 2011 (although he was injured for the postseason) and went on to play six seasons in New York, where he became a key special teams player and team leader.

It’s unclear if the 31-year-old Herzlich will play again after missing the 2017 season due to injury and getting released prior to this season, but either way he has already penned one of the most inspirational comeback stories in sports history.


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