Inspirational Stories: Mark Herzlich

Mark Herzlich

by Joshua on November 5, 2011

Mark Herzlich keeps on inspiring me!

Mark is a 24 year old rookie linebacker on my favorite football team, the New York Giants. I’ve been rooting for Mark since he was first diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma in 2009. At the time, Mark was a dominant linebacker for Boston College and was expected to be a first round pick in the NFL draft.

The cancer diagnosis left Mark with a choice. He could follow his doctor’s advice and have his femur replaced with a cadaver’s bone, which would give him the best chance to live. This option would effectively end his football career. Or, he could go through chemotherapy and radiation treatment in an attempt to keep his femur.

Mark wanted to keep his football dream alive. He chose the more difficult option of chemo. Within five months, his doctors declared him cancer free.

He would need a titanium rod inserted into his leg to reinforce his depleted femur. It didn’t slow him down one bit. Within a year, he was back on the football field. Incredible!

Mark led his Boston College team onto the field for the opening game of the 2010 season. He was back! He would go on to start every game that year.

However, things were now different. Mark lacked the speed, quickness, and explosive strength he displayed before his battle with cancer. He was still a great linebacker and team leader; however, NFL scouts began to doubt his ability to cut it in the NFL. The 2011 NFL draft was held April 28-30. Mark’s name wasn’t called. A former lock for the first round went undrafted. His future in the NFL was back in doubt.

NFL teams always invite undrafted college free agents to camp in order to have extra bodies available for practice. Mark accepted the invitation from the Giants when they called. No one in the press believed he would make the team. He was supposed to be a nice story for the summer. A cancer survivor trying out for a place in the NFL. That narrative wasn’t good enough for Mark. He was determined to make the team.

When final cuts were announced that fall, it was clear that Mark was about to realize his dream. Mark had made the team! He was now a professional football player on the New York Football Giants. Wow!

So far this season Mark has made some contributions on special teams. Head Coach Tom Coughlin describes Mark as tough, reliable, and smart. Coach Coughlin believes Mark has a future in the NFL.

I’m willing to bet a future in the NFL isn’t good enough for Mark Herzlich. I’m willing to bet that Mark Herzlich is aiming for greatness in the NFL. After everything Mark has been through, I have no doubt he will develop into a star starting linebacker for the Giants. He won’t settle for anything less.

Mark Herzlich is an inspiration to me. He goes after what he wants with everything he has. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself based on circumstances outside of his control. He just plays the cards he’s dealt and pushes forward.

If Mark Herzlich can overcome a life threatening form of bone cancer to live out his dream in the NFL, what excuse do the rest of us have?

What’s your dream? So what’s stopping you from achieving it? There is no time like the present to make it happen!

Check out Mark’s story on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

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