You could not have possibly scripted a more eventful training camp for the Philadelphia Eagles. While most of the fan base was extremely excited about the signings of Nnamdi Asomugha and Vince Young and company, the management for the Eagles was extremely concerned about the potential health of one of their most important players.
That would be third-year wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who was placed on the Active/Non-Football Illness list on August 3rd, 2011, with the reason going undisclosed to the public.
Two days later, head coach Andy Reid stated that he expected Maclin to be ready for the regular season. But again, he did not disclose the details of Maclin’s illness.
By this point, fans were starting to get pretty scared. I remember working at training camp and being one of the very few who knew the truth behind Maclin’s health.
As for everybody else? Well let’s just say that there were some crazy rumors circulating on the internet, with everything from AIDS to a deadly form of cancer.
On August 17th, it was revealed that Maclin had been held out of football because of a lymphoma scare. An inflammatory virus was determined to be the cause of the symptoms that he showed and he did not have cancer, to the relief of the entire Eagles’ organization.
Here is the official statement that Maclin provided to FOXSports:
“That’s first and foremost, I want everyone to know I’m fine, I’m healthy. I was tested for everything, and every single test came back negative. I don’t have mono, I don’t have AIDS, leukemia — all the things people were guessing on, there was nothing. I was being tested for lymphoma and thank God everything has come back negative.
“I wanted my privacy on this until I had answers. I don’t like to talk unless I have all the answers about what I’m talking about. It was frustrating to hear all the rumors about me. It wasn’t until this morning that I finally got my final answer and thankfully I’m healthy and ready to return to football.”
The scare began for Maclin when he started experiencing rapid weight loss, iron anemia, and irregular results from blood tests. On his 23rd birthday (May 11th), a scan showed that his lymph nodes were enlarged and hot, which started the lymphoma scare.
Maclin spent months and months unsure of whether he would play football at all in 2012, or ever again. He says that things were especially difficult for him because he couldn’t talk to the Eagles’ training staff through his whole ordeal because of the NFL lockout.
Thankfully everything worked out fine for the former first-round pick, who was revealed to be completely cancer-free.
“I’m blessed by God,” Maclin said upon news that he did not have cancer. “Today was a sigh of relief. They’ll release me to play football, but we have to wait a little more until I’m healed from the procedure last week.
“Man, I don’t wish this on anybody. I look back at my whole life, I’ve already gone through so much. I already appreciate where I am and appreciate the game of football. I can’t wait to get back out there and just resume my normal life.”
Maclin actually suffered through a slightly disappointing 2011 season, missing three games due to injuries. He caught 63 passes for 859 yards and five touchdowns, but suffered three extremely costly late-game blunders that led to Eagles’ losses in 2011: in week two, the Eagles trailed Atlanta 35-31 when Maclin dropped a 4th and 4 pass from Mike Kafka deep in Atlanta territory in the final minute; in week four, the Eagles trailed San Francisco 24-23 when Maclin lost a fumble after he was caught from behind by defensive end Justin Smith in the final two minutes; and in week nine, the Eagles trailed Chicago 30-24 with a minute to go when Maclin caught a 4th and 10 pass but slipped a yard short of the first down marker.
The 2012 season, with a happy DeSean Jackson helping to open up defenses for him, should result in Maclin’s best season yet–especially since he can spend the offseason focusing on football and not his health.