Sports: The Comeback Kid

Five months after being named one of the best football players in the nation, BC linebacker Mark Herzlich was diagnosed last May with a rare form of cancer and told he'd never play again. Those doctors clearly didn't know who they were talking to. On 9/4 the fully recovered senior will take the field in BC's season opener.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

So the doctors said you were done with football?
They said there was no chance, basically. The operation to remove the tumor would be too damaging to even let me run. That was obviously devastating, but if I had a spark of hope that maybe I could get back — that’s what I was pulling for. After two months of chemotherapy, the tumor shrank so much that I didn’t need surgery. I did radiation for five weeks, then another six months of chemotherapy, and it went away completely. Around Thanksgiving, the doctors said, “You’re probably going to be able to get back.”

You now have a titanium rod in your leg, and if you break a bone, it likely won’t heal properly. Are you nervous?
I think if my leg gets hit I’ll just get up and be like, “Wow, the rod works. It’s strong.” There’s not going to be any hesitation on my part. I’m still going to hit people, whether I’m good at it or not.

Is your family concerned about you playing again?

I know my mom will be a bit worried. But this is something that not only I’ve worked for over the past year — my parents and my brother have been right there beside me, helping me get to where I want to go. So they’re going to be proud and very excited.

How will it feel running out on the field for the first game?

I’ve thought about that a lot over the past year and a half. It’s going to be pretty awesome — just seeing all the fans and stepping across the white lines. That’s when my instincts will take over, and football will become football again. That’s when I’ll feel like I’ve come full circle — that I’m back to being the person I was before.