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Herzlich’s story deserves more attention

Chicago Bears v New York Giants Getty Images

Not many men survive cancer to play in the NFL.  For that reason alone, we should all find inspiration in the achievements of Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich, who has gone from cancer victim in 2009 to playing college football again for Boston College in 2010 to being undrafted in 2011 to signing with the Giants as a low-pedigree member of the 90-man-maximum roster to making it onto the 53-man collection of players.

Peter King of SI.com has some great details in his latest MMQB column, and it’s worth a close and careful read.  Herzlich’s story deserves worth even more recognition and awareness, given what he has overcome and what he can do for others who have felt or inevitably will experience the hopelessness of a cancer diagnosis.

Herzlich, as King explains it, at one point was advised to have the affected femur replaced with a cadaver bone, which would have ended Herzlich’s football career.  He opted instead for a course of treatment that allowed him to continue to live his life the way he chooses to live it, and it worked.

The story contains various other intriguing twists.  Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who was a generation ago the head coach at Boston College, once lost a player (Jay McGillis) to cancer, and Coughlin continues to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause via The Jay Fund.

Herzlich paints a dramatically different picture of Coughlin than a certain former Giant who had a serious leg problem, for reasons entirely other than cancer.  “I’ve had lunch with coach Coughlin a couple of times,” Herzlich told King.  “He’ll coach you hard, but then he’ll sit with you and talk about life.  We talk about grandkids, how things are with him, but nothing too football-related.”

Then there’s the fact that Giants linebacker Clint Sintim had been in touch with Herzlich long before Herzlich became a Giant, calling and texting Herzlich to wish him well.  Sintim helped Herzlich through the demands of training camp.  And with Sintim suffering a season-ending knee injury on Thursday night, Herzlich’s spot on the roster became solidified.

Here’s hoping that the multi-papers-and-platforms New York media elects to give Herzlich’s journey the attention it deserves.  Other more salacious and scandalous stories will make for better headlines and attract more eyeballs.  But Herzlich’s story gives folks who struggle with cancer something that money can never buy:  Hope.

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32 Responses to “Herzlich’s story deserves more attention”
  1. mrwaters says: Sep 5, 2011 10:58 AM

    GREAT JOB ON THIS STORY!!!

  2. clavette says: Sep 5, 2011 11:06 AM

    terrific player, glad my team picked him up and he made it. this guy will be an nfl player for a long time, even if he just ends up as a special teams player. plays his butt off every day and deserves this chance

  3. turk2875 says: Sep 5, 2011 11:08 AM

    Coming from the site that has 18 Tim Tebow stories a day……

  4. itsmammoth says: Sep 5, 2011 11:10 AM

    Way to go Mark Herzlich! You kick ass!

  5. youcantquitmebaby says: Sep 5, 2011 11:15 AM

    Great story. I hope he has a long career in the NFL.

  6. bigbwoy000 says: Sep 5, 2011 11:25 AM

    From someone that has both lost people to this terrible illness & battled it myself.

    Good Luck Mark.

  7. jimmytwotimes says: Sep 5, 2011 11:28 AM

    I know, but the dream team and number 7 are the NFL” darlings right now !

  8. waxthat says: Sep 5, 2011 11:36 AM

    Beautiful story bro.

  9. jw731 says: Sep 5, 2011 11:38 AM

    No Shame……….None

  10. CKL says: Sep 5, 2011 11:46 AM

    Far be it for Pats fans to want to root for anyone on the NYG but I know of none of us who aren’t rooting like crazy for this kid to make good.

  11. notoriousbri says: Sep 5, 2011 11:50 AM

    Great Story.. Not a Giants fan but wish the guy the best of luck in football and life…

    kudos on this story PFT

  12. tatum064 says: Sep 5, 2011 11:55 AM

    Great story. Overcoming the odds is always a testament to the human condition.

  13. bearsrulepackdrool says: Sep 5, 2011 12:03 PM

    Then there’s the fact that Giants linebacker Clint Sintim had been in touch with Herzlich long before Herzlich became a Giant, calling and texting Herzlich to wish him well.
    ____________________________________

    Tampering?

  14. jus10jonez says: Sep 5, 2011 12:10 PM

    The definition of perseverance and hustle

  15. gcsuk says: Sep 5, 2011 12:18 PM

    bearsrulepackdrool says:
    Sep 5, 2011 12:03 PM
    Then there’s the fact that Giants linebacker Clint Sintim had been in touch with Herzlich long before Herzlich became a Giant, calling and texting Herzlich to wish him well.
    ____________________________________

    Tampering?
    ————————————————–
    Tampering? You mind explaining how? Is Clint Sintim NOW a member of the Giants coaching staff or front office? Or wait, is he a “double agent” as a player AND a spy for “the man”?

    It isn’t tampering when a player contacts another player to wish him well. Clint Sintim didn’t buy him a car, or his parents a house, or make Herzlich promises that only the front office could keep. Maybe, just maybe, Sintim was just being a decent human being.

  16. stairwayto7 says: Sep 5, 2011 12:37 PM

    If he played for one of ESPN’s teams, Pats, Jets, Packers, Indy or Dallas it woudl be a story by them.

  17. whoknowsnothing says: Sep 5, 2011 12:39 PM

    Cancer is one of the worst disease’s on this planet.
    To comeback and beat it and play football in the NFL, now that is priceless.

    Enjoy it Mark, every second of it.

  18. maratechfan says: Sep 5, 2011 12:41 PM

    On behalf of, if I may, all Giant fans I want to thank you for this special coverage on our special kid.
    But I want to point out that he did not make the Giants because he beat Cancer, Mark makes plays!
    He is a solid player that makes big plays. Too become great you have to make plays in Big Situations, Big Games. When you are an undrafted walk on and you get on the field, it is a big situation.

  19. fin72 says: Sep 5, 2011 12:52 PM

    Does anybody else smell a movie of the week?

  20. jdlaroo says: Sep 5, 2011 1:28 PM

    Why kind of classless ignorant morons can ‘thumbs down’ the heartfelt comments of support for this kid? Bad karma to those idiots.

  21. chuckcecil says: Sep 5, 2011 1:52 PM

    What about P Josh Bidwell? He also survived cancer and went on to have a great career. PFT has had multiple opportunities to highlight his story (Pro Bowl berth in ’05, season ending injury in ’09, his signing by the Redskins, his recent release), but not a peep.

  22. doe22us says: Sep 5, 2011 2:03 PM

    Those that thumbs down are just sad sad trolls on the internet and this site. Thumbs up to Mr Herzlich wishing him the very best this season and beyond.

  23. jeff061 says: Sep 5, 2011 2:11 PM

    This story has been beaten to death. Its great…great for him – now lets move on.

  24. jamie54 says: Sep 5, 2011 2:28 PM

    Mike, thanks so much and thanks Peking for this. His story needs to get out, it’s just amazing we don’t hear more stories like this instead of the Pacman type stuff. Bravo, Mr. King, and to you Mike.

  25. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 5, 2011 2:59 PM

    Personally, while I agree people outside of Boston and New York need to know, I’m already getting tired of hearing the story. Maybe because I’m a fan of the team and live here, but it is reaching Chris Paul Grandfather Proportions.

  26. weezilgirl says: Sep 5, 2011 3:04 PM

    His story is truly a “comeback” award event. Such as the Ed Blank award. This time it would be truly deserved.

  27. bearsrulepackdrool says: Sep 5, 2011 3:17 PM

    gcsuk says:
    Sep 5, 2011 12:18 PM
    bearsrulepackdrool says:
    Sep 5, 2011 12:03 PM
    Then there’s the fact that Giants linebacker Clint Sintim had been in touch with Herzlich long before Herzlich became a Giant, calling and texting Herzlich to wish him well.
    ___________________________________

    Tampering?
    ————————————————–
    Tampering? You mind explaining how? Is Clint Sintim NOW a member of the Giants coaching staff or front office? Or wait, is he a “double agent” as a player AND a spy for “the man”?

    It isn’t tampering when a player contacts another player to wish him well. Clint Sintim didn’t buy him a car, or his parents a house, or make Herzlich promises that only the front office could keep. Maybe, just maybe, Sintim was just being a decent human being.
    __________________________________

    I think you might be a little confused on the issue on tampering. Here’s a quote from NFL senior vice president of public relations Greg Aiello:

    “Out of our anti-tampering policy, the term tampering as used within the NFL refers to any interference by a member club with the employer/employee relationship of another club or any attempt by a club to impermissibly induce the person to seek employment with that club or with the NFL.”

    Plus, we don’t know how far it went. I just say it is worth investigating. I doubt if it was just “wishing him well” if he “constantly kept in touch” with him. Especially with him helping him out in training camp.

  28. gcsuk says: Sep 5, 2011 5:10 PM

    @bearsrulepackdrool
    OK, you want to explain how this is “tampering” then? Is Clint Sintim a representative of “the member club”? No, he is a player, he is not office personnel or coaching staff.

    Why do you think players were allowed to contact and hang out with OTHER PLAYERS during the lockout, but coaches and Front Office could not talk to players without express permission from the league? Because players are not part of “the member club” within the rules of the NFL.

    And I’m sure there is a HUGE conspiracy going on here. I mean, I can only imagine that the Giants probably told Sintim to keep tabs on this player that NO OTHER team drafted because they were going to bring him in. If all the other teams were that high on him, you think that MAYBE someone would have drafted him?

  29. chickslovehakeemnicks says: Sep 5, 2011 9:20 PM

    My brother passed away from Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2004. Beat it twice, but it came back a third time.

    Words can’t express how incredible it is to see a guy kick the dirty disease to the curb and thrive in the manner that Herzlich has. Doesn’t hurt that he plays for OUR favorite team, either.

    Here’s to a happy and healthy future for the brave young man.

  30. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 5, 2011 9:53 PM

    chickslovehakeemnicks says: Sep 5, 2011 9:20 PM

    My brother passed away from Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2004. Beat it twice, but it came back a third time.

    Words can’t express how incredible it is to see a guy kick the dirty disease to the curb and thrive in the manner that Herzlich has. Doesn’t hurt that he plays for OUR favorite team, either.

    Here’s to a happy and healthy future for the brave young man.
    ————-

    I agree there. I just hope his triumph over the disease doesn’t become the only thing he’s known for. That is what I am fearful about.

  31. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 5, 2011 9:55 PM

    Sorry to hear about your brother, also. It was painful to watch my uncle deteriorate and ESPECIALLY my grandfather, who I was extremely close to — pass away after prostate cancer and multiple myeloma caused him to lose his entire midsection and be in pain for the final 10 years of his life. But he still got around and was vital the entire time.

  32. macjacmccoy says: Sep 6, 2011 2:14 AM

    Really? I really like the kid I wanted the Eagles to draft him in the 4th, then 5th, then 6th, then 7th round last year and when that didnt happen I wanted them to sign him as an undrafted free agent. When that didnt happen I still rooted for him to make the Giants and become an effective player.

    But come on his story needs more attention. He has had more attention then almost any rookie undrafted free agent in league history.

    All before the 2010 NCAA season we heard time and time again about him making his come back to football.

    Throughout the season their was alot of talk about how his resurgence.

    Then during senior bowl week all during the practices the cameras followed him and the announcers talked about his story.

    During the game they told his story again.

    At the combine the light was shined on his illness again.

    Then during the draft Rich Eisen and Irvin and Mooch and everyone else talked about Herzlich for around a combined 30 minutes. The same thing happened on ESPN.

    Later ESPN ran a 30 for 30 segment about him and his struggles. They also created and played a couple of different segments about him over the last few years.

    On Real Sports on HBO they had a segment about him.

    We have also have a dozen or so stories on here about him. And probably 10 times that amount on different sport sites and blogs.

    So with all that I dont see how anyone could say his story deserves more attention. It has been one of the most well documented sports stories about someone going from a life threating disease to fighting back and making it to a pro sports league. Like I said I really like the kid it has nothing to do with that. I just dont have a clue where your coming from. The only thing that hasnt been done is a “The Blind Side” type feature film made about him. Who knows if he wants anymore attention. He has had to listen to people constantly talk about his illness. He is probably tired of hearing people talk about it. He probably wants to put it past him and have people focus on his ability on the football field and not what he had to do to get there.

    Obviously I dont know what he’s thinking but IMO I bet the last things he wants his more attention on his “story”.

    Let the guy live.

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