With this whole lockout thing casting some doubt and un-optimism surrounding NFL teams (particularly a team rebuilding in all phases cough Titans cough), there aren't many good stories you hear. But in an attempt to curb a little bit of the negativity, I'm just going to talk about a player who's been through hell and deserves his shot at the NFL. His name:
Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College.
Mark Herzlich burst onto the scene in 2008 with Boston College. He compiled a 110 tackle, 6 interception season with the Eagles, and was projected to be a lock in the top 10 for the NFL Draft once he came out.
But he was soon to fight his toughest battle yet: Cancer.
Doctors said he had a 70% chance of surviving Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that required the insertion of a 12-inch titanium rod to reinforce his left leg. But what doctors told Herzlich in March of 2009 looked to be the final blow in his NFL quest.
"They told me that not only would I never play football again but I'd never run again."
You'd think that this would crush the spirits of a person, especially an aspiring pro-athlete with all the talent in the world. But Herzlich had something that a lot of people lack: Determination. Not just determination to beat cancer, but determination to return to the gridiron.
Mark had a vow to himself. He wanted to run through the tunnel with his team mates again. That was his goal.
"I've talked to a lot of people going through cancer right now. And the biggest problem they have is not having that light at the end of the tunnel, not having a goal. My goal happened to be running out of the tunnel with my team. It kind of got me through a lot of things."
Herzlich won his first battle, a victory over cancer, on September 29, 2009.
Now it was time for Herzlich to return to football. Mark did return in 2010, but saw his production suffer some and struggled at the Senior Bowl. After once being projected a top 10 pick, he's now viewed as a 3rd to 5th rounder.
"If I keep working the way I've been working and improving the way I've been improving, the sky's the limit."
I'm sure many of you have heard this guy's story. But basically what inspired me to write this fanpost was the fact that, in a league filled with way over privileged guys who don't put in the effort or don't work near as hard as Herzlich, it just needed to be said that there are some guys out there that still work their ass off, on and off the field, in hopes of achieving their goals. I thought a "Good news" post would be something good to write about instead of talking about how the lockout is never gonna end or how bad the Titans are gonna suck in 2011 or how Kenny Britt keeps getting arrested. All that is going to be posted I realize, but hey, good news happens too.
Herzlich is one of 25 prospects attending the 2011 NFL Draft. Good for him. I think he offers a lot to a football team. He's going to work work work, he's going to produce, and he's going to be a tremendous locker room presence as well as a good leader. I would LOVE for this guy to be drafted by the Titans.
Any thoughts on Herzlich?