BEYOND THE TROPHY WEEK 13
Name: Mark Herzlich, New York Giants
College: Boston College (2011)
Height, weight, position: 6-4, 245 pounds, linebacker
High School: Conestoga High School, Berwyn, Pennsylvania
About Mark Herzlich: An undrafted free agent, Herzlich signed with the New York Giants in 2011 and made the 53-man roster. He made his first start on November 20, 2011 in his hometown of Philadelphia against the Eagles. The Giants won the Super Bowl in his first season. After starting as a true freshman at Boston College, Herzlich continued to climb the ladder and was named first-team All-American and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Year after his junior season in 2008. On May 12, 2009 as he prepared for his senior season at BC, the Eagles’ star was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. In September of 2009, Herzlich announced he was cancer free. He sat out the 2009 season, but returned to play for the Eagles in 2010. After Herzlich was diagnosed with a rare disease, Boston College formed an Uplifting Athletes chapter and chose Herzlich’s disease – Ewing’s sarcoma – as their rare disease to advance research by raising funds and awareness. Uplifting Athletes presents its Rare Disease Champion award each year and the trophy given to the winner features a statue of Herzlich.
In less than three years you went from being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer to winning a Super Bowl. What parts of that journey will always resonate with you?
Herzlich: Really the entire journey is and will be eternally locked in my brain. It was such a tough and trying experience, but it taught me to focus and never give up.
After a four-month battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, you announced you were cancer free and set your sights on returning to the football field for Boston College in 2010. How did the cancer affect you as an athlete and what aspect of being an athlete at a high level was the most difficult for you to re-acquire?
Herzlich: The most difficult thing to get back was my speed. I had determination, that is easy to re-gain, the strength came back slowly but the speed took a few years.
What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?
Herzlich: Playing Virgina Tech down there in 2007 and winning on a last second Hail Mary.
What did it mean to you when one of your teammates at Boston College told you their team was starting at Uplifting Athletes chapter in your honor?
Herzlich: When Ryan Lindsey told me that he was going to do that for me, it made me not only appreciate my team that much more but also drove me to get better.
What is the toughest NFL team you’ve faced or regularly play and what makes them so difficult?
Herzlich: Any team with a scrambling quarterback is tough because they can always make something happen with their arm or feet.
Facebook, Twitter or neither and why?
Herzlich: I use Twitter, because Facebook is a little too revealing.
You grew up in the Philadelphia area, played college football in Boston and now play professionally in New York. Those are three major sports markets. Which of those three is the toughest sports city and why?
Herzlich: They are all easy to play in if you are winning. But New York is very hard if you aren’t winning.
Besides one of your teammates, name an NFL player you enjoy watching?
Herzlich: J.J. Watt (Texans DE) and Clay Mathews (Packers LB).