NFL Rumors: Cancer Survivor Mark Herzlich to Start for New York Giants?

By Jeff Shull

You’d be hard pressed to find a more touching NFL story then that of New York Giants linebacker Mark Herlich.

The Giants won a tough battle against the division rival Dallas Cowboys, but may have lost in the short-term future as Antrel Rolle, Keith Rivers and Chase Blackburn all exited the game late with injuries. Blackburn is an incredible story, going from substitute math teacher in October 2011 to Super Bowl champion in February. However, the person who will replace him in the starting lineup would make an even more miraculous story.

The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting Blackburn will miss this Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to the hamstring injury he suffered against Dallas. If that is the case, then Herzlich, a survivor of cancer, would replace him.

The short version of Herzlich’s incredible story is that he was a player with everything on his horizon. Instead of entering the 2009 NFL draft, Herzlich had already decided to come back for his senior season in 2009. He was then diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. The prognosis did not look good.

He fought the disease and came back to play for Boston College in 2010. He was clearly not the player he once was, but even if the story ended there it would be one worth telling your grandchildren about. But Herzlich was not going to give up on his dream to play in the NFL.

He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL draft, but GM Jerry Reese saw something and decided to give him a shot. Herzlich made the most of it, earning a spot on the final 53-man roster as a rookie.

Fast forward to 2012. Herzlich begun to stand out to the coaching staff in training camp, so much so that they made him the backup middle linebacker. With Blackburn’s status in question, and doubtful at the moment, Herzlich could be called upon to start.

It appeared as if the Giants were grooming him to be the middle linebacker for the future, but those plans will be rushed along with Blackburn out. I cannot wait to see what Herzlich does with his opportunity.

Jeff is an NFL Featured Columnist for Like Jeff’s Facebook Page here. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Shull

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