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Through cancer and chemo, Herzlich stayed focused on football

Super Bowl Football

New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich answers questions during Media Day for NFL football’s Super Bowl XLVI Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


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.