Former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, the 2008 ACC defensive player of the year who missed all of 2009 while battling cancer, returned to football in 2010 and then was passed over in last week’s NFL draft, has cited Lance Armstrong as an inspiration. Now NFL teams may examine Armstrong as a guide to what they could expect from Herzlich as an undrafted free agent.
According to Jason La Canfora of NFL Network, teams considering signing Herzlich have reached out to Armstrong and his doctors to learn more about how elite athletes respond to chemotherapy. What they’ve been told is that it can take 18 months for an athlete who’s gone through chemo to get back to full speed.
For Herzlich’s NFL hopes, an 18-month time frame for complete recovery from chemo would be a great sign: It would suggest that he should continue to improve after battling cancer in 2009 and become a better player than he was on the field for Boston College in 2010.
Herzlich can’t sign with any NFL team until the lockout ends, but when he is able to sign, he’s expected to get a shot to prove himself at a training camp or on a practice squad roster. If Armstrong’s recovery from chemotherapy is any indication, Herzlich still has a real chance to regain his 2008 form on the football field.