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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Linebacker who beat cancer gets shot at NFL ..

    BY JIM THOMAS St. Louis Sports, News, Jobs, Classifieds, Entertainment & Weather | (4) Comments | Posted: Friday, January 28, 2011 12:25 am


    MOBILE, ALA. It was a great story no, make that an inspirational story when Mark Herzlich beat cancer and returned to the football field this fall for Boston College.

    Now, he's trying to add another improbable chapter to the tale making it in the National Football League.

    "It's really surreal, to be honest, to be here with all these great players," Herzlich said. "You always dream about coming to the Senior Bowl and going to the NFL. And to have that taken away from you and then get it back, you cherish it even that much more."

    Herzlich is an outside linebacker for the North squad. Among the 100 players displaying their talents to NFL coaches and scouts this week, he's the one with a titanium rod in his left leg, and the one who has survived months of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

    Herzlich was the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year in 2008, when he recorded 110 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and three sacks. He intercepted six passes, more than any other linebacker in the country that season, returning two of them for touchdowns.

    He considered turning pro after that season and was projected as a first-round pick, but decided to stay in school. But in May 2009 after experiencing pain in his left leg, he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

    "I did radiation in the morning, chemo six hours after that, and then radiation again at night," Herzlich said. "So after those weeks, I was drained. And when I was up at school, because I took classes throughout the whole process, going back to the dorm rooms after doing chemotherapy, that was the worst part. Just being around everybody. Everybody's having fun and going out, and I'm just wiped."

    But by Sept. 29, 2009, the cancer was gone. A couple of months later, the rod was inserted to help his recovery because of weakening in the tibia of his leg. After missing the '09 season, he was back on the field in 2010 for BC.

    "Not many of us have experienced miracles," Boston College coach Frank Spaziani told the Washington Post early in the season. "Mark experienced one, and he's on the verge of doing the next one. It's just a joy, a pleasure to watch."

    Herzlich's story is a familiar one to many college football fans on the East Coast, but there's a St. Louis twist to it as well. He was born in Kirkwood and lived there for several years as a youngster.

    "My dad worked for Purina, then we moved to Philadelphia," Herzlich said. "Andrew Edmonds was my best friend when we were little, and his grandfather is Stan Musial. So we were good friends with the Musials."

    Herzlich's agent is Tom Condon of the St. Louis-based CAA sports agency. And who knows? With the Rams in search of an outside linebacker, Herzlich could be spending more time in his old hometown.

    "He's super competitive. Great character," said Russ Lande of the GM Jr. NFL Draft scouting service. "He's the type of guy you want in the locker room. Spags would love this kid."

    Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo certainly knows about Herzlich, making mention of his size Tuesday following a North squad practice. At 6-3, 244 pounds, Herzlich is one of the biggest linebackers here this week.


    Herzlich looked good, but not great, in pass-rush drills Wednesday against backs and tight ends. He admits he needs work on his pass-rush technique and his one-on-one coverage. Even with all those interceptions in 2008, Herzlich says, "We never did man-to-man coverage in college."

    Like many draft prospects, Herzlich left campus to work out at one of the pre-draft training facilities as soon as his college season ended. He has been training at the IMG facility in Florida. But unlike some of the other draft prospects, Herzlich didn't have to drop out of school to do so. He has his undergraduate degree in marketing and his master's degree in administrative studies.

    He is lifting weights at the same levels as he did prior to the cancer diagnosis. Slowed in part by a broken foot that forced him to miss all of preseason camp last summer, Herzlich played well in 2010 but wasn't quite the instinctive dynamo he was in '08. He also played with a broken hand late in the season and finished third on the team in tackles with 65.

    Some scouts feel Herzlich may need another year to regain his pre-cancer form as a player. Even so, he could still be drafted as high as the second or third rounds if he checks out medically.

    "I had a goal to first of all beat cancer," Herzlich said. "Second of all, come back and play football. Not just come back and play but come back and play at a high level and be at a place like this."

    In his mind, Herzlich has moved past the cancer, but it comes up at every meeting he has with teams at the Senior Bowl.

    "They ask about dates and when stuff happened," Herzlich said. "And they ask me how I got through it."

    A part of him is tired of answering cancer questions, be it from the media or teams. But he knows it's part of the process, and he realizes his story might give others hope.

    "There's someone who's going to read a newspaper, or read a blog or whatever, who says, 'My sister's going through that.' Or 'My son's going through that. And this guy got through it,'" Herzlich said.

    As a byproduct of what he went through, Herzlich has helped raise tens of thousands of dollars to help fight cancer. After the draft, he plans to take part in charity events and fundraisers. But for now, he's trying to earn a job.

    And if it means a few more days of cancer questions at the NFL scouting combine next month in Indianapolis, well, Herzlich can deal with it.

    "If I did six months of chemotherapy, I can do three days of anything," he said.


  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Linebacker who beat cancer gets shot at NFL ..

    Good story indeed. Happy for this young man / athlete in his struggle with cancer and his success thus far.

    Who knows? Perhaps Herzlich could make it in the NFL and even if he is GOOD as opposed to a "great" LB as the article says, I wouldn't mind seeing him in a Rams uniform!

  3. #3
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    Re: Linebacker who beat cancer gets shot at NFL ..

    Herzlich is a very physical, loud, passionate player. Just the type of linebacker I want to see on this team.

  4. #4
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Linebacker who beat cancer gets shot at NFL ..

    Still seems to be long shot away from being recruited by the Rams, but it is possible. I researched and read a bit about this LB prospect in Mocking the draft(.com). Best wishes to Mark.


  5. #5
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    Re: Linebacker who beat cancer gets shot at NFL ..

    Lol.....wow, why am I laughing you ask? Because I thought the title of this thread said "linebacker who beat cancer, gets shot". Like with a gun, at an NFL event or something. Lol.

    Not that that would be funny or anything, just funny the way I read it. Lol.

    Thank God that's not the case.

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