Herzlich fought to make it to the Super Bowl

658272.jpg

Herzlich fought to make it to the Super Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mark Herzlich would play the tape back over and over again, remembering how healthy and strong he had once been.

In his Pennsylvania Hospital room he watched video of himself making plays as a linebacker at Boston College. They were the plays that helped make him the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 -- athletic, dynamic, punishing.

He watched it during his worst days of suffering while being treated for Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He watched it to remember who he could be. During his illness, in 2009, on the days in which he would undergo hours of chemotherapy after radiation sessions, he did not feel like the guy on his highlight tape.

Now, two years later, he's back on the field. A reserve linebacker for the Giants, he spoke on Media Day today about his fight against cancer and his journey to the Super Bowl.

"Playing football again was that goal, and that really pushed me," Herzlich said. "After six hours of chemotherapy, youre sitting there and your body just feels drained. You dont want to move, but I said, I am going to be playing football again in eight months, so I need to go and workout. I need to go ride a bike, get some cardio in. Thats what I did. I made a highlight video for myself from my 2008 season. The real bad days, I would put that in the chemo room and watch that kind of on repeat over and over again just to kind of see myself succeeding. Thats something that as you go through things, you learn that you have to see yourself succeed, whether mentally or actually in person. That can help you do it.

Herzlich returned to Boston College in 2010 to play his senior season. He went undrafted, but signed with the Giants before this season. On Tuesday he reflected on the long journey he's made in a relatively short amount of time. He stood on the Lucas Oil Stadium field, in uniform, sporting a mohawk, but the memories of the suffering he endured as a cancer patient were still fresh.

The physical pain was intense," he said. "The pain that I would get in my leg and in my lower back felt like knives being stabbed into my legs. It was just completely random. It didnt happen when I was running, necessarily. It didnt happen when I was just sitting down, necessarily. It would be on and off. I think that was one of the hardest parts about it. The pain coming after the surgery where I had to get the scar tissue kind of kneaded out with massage and stuff, that was probably the worst pain Ive ever been in because they had to actually tear the muscle off the bone and tear the scar tissue away. It was painful. I was screaming on the massage table.

When he stepped off the Giants plane in Indianapolis, the gravity of the moment hit him. He remembered all he went through, and he took to Twitter.

2 yrs ago I was told I might never walk again. Just WALKED off plane in Indy to play in The SuperBowl. TakeThatShtCancer, he tweeted.

The message quickly went viral. Though playing in a Super Bowl after beating cancer is sweet, inspiring others to fight the disease made it even more so for Herzlich.

"Obviously, this week is all about football and all about playing," he said. "But there are people out there who are going through cancer right now who see that and say, Hey, if he is doing it, I can do it.

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts belts three home runs

soxpost_053116_1280x720_696412227903.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts belts three home runs

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Orioles.

 

QUOTES

"If he has a boy, he ought to make him Mookie after tonight's outing.'' - John Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr., who left the team for a paternity leave after Mookie Betts slugged three homers.

"I know each day that I've got it. I wake up, I know I have it. I come to the field, I know I have it.'' - Xander Bogaerts on his ongoing hitting streak.

"He's probably one of the few guys, every time I see him hit, I think he's going to hit a homer. He's just that presence that he has in the batter's box.'' - Bogaerts on Betts.

"This is probably my best night; first time I've ever done that.'' - Betts, when asked where the game ranks individually for him in his career.

"I wanted to locate the heater good, not force it too much, don't try to throw hard - just try to throw strikes.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on his season debut.

 

NOTES:

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games, second-longest in baseball this season.

* Bogaerts has hit safely in 36-of-38 games at a .399 clip with 33 runs scored and 23 driven in.

* Eduardo Rodriguez two runs or fewer in each of his three career starts at Camden Yards.

* The Sox had back-to-back homers (Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia) for the first time this season.

* Mookie Betts had a three-homer game for the first time in his career.

* Betts became the first Red Sox player to homer three times in the same game since Will Middlebrooks did so on April 7, 2013.

* The last time the Sox began a game with back-to-back homers was July 27, 2011 when Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia did so.

* The Red Sox scored multiple runs in the first inning for the 20th time in 51 games.

* David Ortiz extended his own hit streak to eight games.

 

STARS:

1) Mookie Betts

Betts belted three homers -- one to left, one to center and one to right -- for the first time in his career and also contributed a brilliant diving catch in right in the seventh inning.

2) Eduardo Rodriguez

Rodriguez made his season debut and allowed two runs on six hits through six innings and didn't issue a single walk while fanning three.

3) Chris Young

Getting a rare start in center, Young made a spectacular catch to likely rob Manny Machado of a two-run homer, while drawing a walk and adding a single and a run scored.