Through cancer and chemo, Herzlich stayed focused on football


The ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, Mark Herzlich missed the entire 2009 season after being diagnosed with cancer and wasn’t the same player in 2010, resulting in every NFL team passing on him in the 2011 NFL draft. But the Giants picked Herzlich up as an undrafted free agent, and now he’s in the Super Bowl, and Herzlich says focusing on a return to football is what got him through cancer treatments.

At today’s Super Bowl Media Day, Herzlich reflected on the difficult road he took to Indianapolis.

“After six hours of chemotherapy, you’re sitting there and your body just feels drained,” Herzlich said. “You don’t want to move, but I said, ‘I am going to be playing football again in eight months, so I need to go and work out. I need to go ride a bike, get some cardio in.’ That’s what I did. I made a highlight video for myself from my 2008 season. The real bad days, I would put that in in the chemo room and watch that kind of on repeat over and over again just to kind of see myself succeeding. That’s something that as you go through things, you learn that you have to see yourself succeed, whether mentally or actually in person. That can help you do it.”

Herzlich said he hopes there are people going through the same thing now who draw inspiration from him on Sunday.

“There are people out there who are going through cancer right now who see that and say, ‘Hey, if he is doing it, I can do it,'” Herzlich said.

30 responses to “Through cancer and chemo, Herzlich stayed focused on football

  1. its not a cocincidence the giants gave herzlich 58. probably the best eligble number you can wear on the giants D. good luck mark.

  2. Touching story and all but has he even played a meaningful snap yet? 12 tackles this season.

    Leave it to “media day” to manufacture stories I “should” care about.

  3. I hope for the best every week when I watch him play. Most have no idea about his story.

  4. Well I commend him on his recovery from cancer, it’s a horrible disease and I’ve lost a few dear friends to it. As well as I have had it four times, but after losing my leg to cancer, it’s nice to see other people survive it and still living their dreams.

  5. Can someone also please mention Marcus Cannon?

    He has dealt with cancer since Indy last year when he was diagnosed at the Combine and now he’s back in Indy for the Super Bowl. It’s been a crazy year for the rookie who many said was worthy of a 1st round pick before he was diagnosed his cancer.

    His treatment ended in late summer and he’s played just as much as Mr. Herzlich, whom has an inspirational story of his own.

    Just show some love for Mr. Cannon too please national media. These two guys are fantastic role models.

  6. As an Eagles fan, I despise the Giants. As a guy who had the same exact cancer as Herzlich, went through the six-hour chemo treatments like he did, but lost my lower right leg (unlike him of course), I put aside my Giants’ hatred for him only. He is an inspiration and I hope many others with cancer see him as a role model. Those of you who have been lucky enough to avoid chemo treatments have no idea what they do to your body. I never thought about the suffering chemo patients go through until I was one myself. If you hate the Giants like I do and want them to lose 56-0, at least make an exception for Herzlich. He deserves it.

  7. Admittedly, the Giants have some talkers (Rolle, Jacobs, Osi) to name a few. Still, how can any non-Pat fan root against them when they have such role models like Herzlich, Cruz and JPP.

  8. Loved his tweet: 2 yrs ago I was told I might never walk again. Just WALKED off plane in Indy to play in The #SuperBowl. #TakeThatSh*tCancer

  9. I still cannot believe this guy went undrafted. Just an amazing story of hard work and dedication against all odds.

    Also, I agree with the above poster about Marcus Cannon. Someone needs to get his story out. I heard a little about him and would like to know more.

  10. It’s pretty cool that both sides of this game will have numerous great stories. Marcus Cannon and Herzlich on opposing sides of the ball, both cancer survivors. Pretty cool indeed.

    @ Jakek2: Well, no offense meant here, but Pats fans probably won’t root for the Giants simply because…the Pats are facing the Giants in the Super Bowl.

    That having been said, I bear them no ill-will or anything, and certainly have great respect for anyone with as much attention as they (professional athletes/public figures) get, who can actually maintain a decent enough lifestyle to be considered role models.

  11. Congrats Mark and good luck..Saw you during preseason vs the Panthers from the field..

    ravenator , have you ever had a meaningful snap or for that matter, had anything to do with sports..getting cut as a cheerleader doesn’t don’t know what a hard is

  12. As someone whose brother just lost his 35 year old wife to cancer, and leaving him with two children under the age of three, the story of both of these young men is both touching and inspirational to me.

    That said, anyone who thinks it’s funny to make a joke of this and give someone a “thumbs down” on their comments to be a clown needs to realize that there are many families out there that don’t think cancer is a joke.

    Good luck to both of these young men on Sunday. They’re both champions in my book.

  13. @ravenator …

    Every snap, every down, every tackle contributes to the outcome of the game, the season, and the progression to the Super Bowl. Herzlich may not have had great stats, but maybe working out next to him and seeing how he had to drive himself to come back to the game helped Jason Pierre-Paul push himself to an All Pro season. I’m a three-time cancer survivor, and can appreciate his determination to keep his dream alive. His story encouraged me. If it didn’t encourage you, then just skip to the next article. No one’s trying to make you care about anything.

  14. I’m a Pats fan that likes the Giants – I dont like the yappers, but other than that I like the gints. I think Manning is great.

  15. ravenator says:
    Jan 31, 2012 6:23 PM
    Touching story and all but has he even played a meaningful snap yet? 12 tackles this season.

    Leave it to “media day” to manufacture stories I “should” care about.


    You are just a terrible person. I mean really horrible.

    Thank God the internet is anonymous, lest your parents have to feel the shame of having birthed you.

  16. story like this really puts things into perspective when you think you have it rough or things not going your way, stop pause & think of someone like this & you/we all should count our blessings hope to have half the strength & determination MARK has showed

  17. Wow you people are hilarious. It wasnt a knock on Herzlich, it was on the over glorified interviews that is media day. Sorry I’m not as touchy feely as the rest of you. Cry me a river.

  18. I lost a sister from cancer in 1994… 18 years ago. Medicine has advanced alot since that time. It has come to the point now where if you have strength, you can perservere. These guys are an inspiration to everyone. Look at all of the young children out there who get cancer and need to go thru chemo or radiation. They have some very good athletes to look up to, and see their stories of inspiration. These guys never gave up!

    Ravenator… You might not “care”…. I would venture to say that you probably don’t know anyone who has fought thru cancer. It’s something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy! Stories like this give everyone hope! Whether you have had, or know of someone who has dealt with cancer, this is an inspiration to all. It gives everyone hope! Even AIDS isn’t anywhere near as bad as cancer is. And i wouldn’t wish either of them on anyone. But cancer has killed so many people. Even young! It’s so sad to see young children passing away from it. Not even having a chance to experience life. To have a chance to be something. To see how it feels to score a touchdown, or score the game winning hoop. They never get that. But this story will inspire them to fight, to work hard, and believe they have a chance to one day do that.

  19. ravenator says:
    Feb 1, 2012 8:21 AM
    Wow you people are hilarious. It wasnt a knock on Herzlich, it was on the over glorified interviews that is media day. Sorry I’m not as touchy feely as the rest of you. Cry me a river.
    You’re first sentence was a clear knock on Herzlich. And over 230 people thought gave you a “thumbs down”. That may be a small hint as to your wording.

    Good try on the backpedaling.

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