Eric Berry, a safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, has been cleared to return to practice just eight months after receiving a lymphoma diagnosis. Berry’s recovery is nothing short of miraculous considering the disease not only could have ended his NFL career, but also his life.
Late last November, Eric Berry was complaining of chest discomfort following a loss to the Raiders. An exam revealed a mass in Berry’s chest and the diagnosis of lymphoma shortly followed. Berry spent the final weeks of the 2014 season undergoing radiation and chemotherapy to beat the disease.
Though Berry has mostly been out of the public eye while receiving treatment, shortly after his diagnosis, Eric thanked his fans, teammates, and the Chiefs organization for their support before vowing to fight the disease, “(I) did not even want to miss a game. But I understand that right now I have to concentrate on a new opponent.” Berry’s teammates wore his number for the remainder of the 2014 season in a show of support for the young player.
The Chiefs made the announcement Tuesday evening, much to the delight of Kansas City and Eric Berry fans, especially after a rough week for the team in which Pro Bowl Dontari Poe had to undergo surgery for an injured knee.
Kansas City head coach Andy Reid and head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder are expected to discuss Berry’s return following Wednesday’s practice and Eric Berry himself is expected to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss his return to the field. Berry will start slowly by attending a mini-camp that includes quarterbacks, rookies, and players recovering from injuries before returning to the full Chiefs camp on Saturday.
Eric Berry was the fifth overall pick drafted to the NFL in 2010. Berry was chosen for three Pro Bowl appearances, was a two time collegiate All-American, and won SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.
Though it’s unknown how long it will take Eric Berry to return to actual game play, his return to the field for practice is encouraging and inspiring to several members of the NFL, including opponents welcoming Berry back with open arms.
Following the Chiefs’ announcement of Eric Berry’s return on Twitter, even opposing teams in the AFC West responded with joy over Berry’s clean bill of health.
UPDATE: After several rounds of thorough tests, Eric Berry has been cleared for Wednesday morning’s #ChiefsCamp practice.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@KCChiefs) July 29, 2015
Great news. We’re looking forward to seeing you back out there on the field. https://t.co/fBUChCeiaD
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) July 29, 2015
And Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who made headlines himself this week with the hiring of the NFL’s first female coach, let Eric Berry know the NFC West was cheering too.
So happy to hear Eric Berry is back and cleared for practice. All the best. #BerryStrong
— Bruce Arians (@BruceArians) July 29, 2015
[Image of Eric Berry provided courtesy of LA Times.]