Last night was a big night for Mark Herzlich pictured above on this card we just pulled from SAGE 5 Star, one of the best boxes of premium football cards we’ve opened this year. (If you haven’t seen our box break, check it out using this link.) It would have been a big night for Herzlich even if he hadn’t recorded 2 tackles and 2 assists. Last night was his first start in an NFL game. While that is a big accomplishment for any rookie, it is an even more impressive accomplishment because Herzlich is a cancer survivor.
Already a standout at Boston College as a First-team All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, Herzlich was ranked as the 45th best prospect for the 2009 NFL. As he was preparing for senior year, then at the age of 21, Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer found mostly in the pelvis, femur, and ribs. Using the same drive and determination he displayed on the gridiron, Herzlich went into treatment and was cancer free inside of four and a half months, an amazing turnaround. He wasn’t able to play in 2009, but he came back strong in 2010 and was honored with the Maxwell Football Club Courage Award, Disney Spirit Award and Rudy Award along the way.
Herzlich went undrafted in 2011 but was picked up shortly after by the New York Giants. As he took the field last night, the camera showed his parents full of pride, having gone down this road with Mark. As the National Anthem played, it sunk in for Herzlich that this was finally happening, the moment he had been waiting for his whole life. Hopefully, Herzlich is at the beginning of a long career in the NFL. We need players like him who inspire all of us.