In 2010 against a lowly FCS Weber State team, Boston College lined up in the tunnel led by a man who many thought would never play football again. As they soared onto the field, to a roaring crowd, many in #94 jerseys and others waving “Beat Cancer” towels, Mark Herzlich returned to the sport he loved. It was a moment few fans, and this writer in particular, will ever forget.
Mark Herzlich was a superstar for Boston College before his illness, playing with a tenacity that took over games. A typical BC recruit, he was under recruited and ended up with the Eagles in 2006. As he continued to fill out and grow physically and on the field, he became a hulking monster, able to lay the wood on receivers, quarterbacks and running backs. As he became a fearsome linebacker, fans quickly caught on to his infectious energy and play on the field.
In 2008 he was a First-team All-American, ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Herzlich was also a finalist for the Butkus Award, and a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy finishing the year with 110 tackles and 81 stops, six interceptions, eight pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries. He was a wrecking machine, ball hawking all over the field and taking over games, probably his most prolific was against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons when he finished the game with 9 tackles, two interceptions and a touchdown that ended up being the difference between a win and a loss.
At the end of the season he decided to come back for his senior year but received devastating news when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. In his press release he said “Obviously, I was shocked. I had been extremely focused on preparing for my senior season at Boston College and for life beyond that. Now, I must channel all that energy into facing my toughest opponent yet, and that is exactly what I will do…At this point, I do not know what this means for my football future, but I am determined to rid my body of this disease so that I can put that uniform back on. Thank you in advance for your prayers and concern. Together, we will fight this and win”
He received a variety of treatments including chemotherapy, and miraculously announced he was cancer free in 2009 during College Gameday at Chestnut Hill, a moment many of us will never forget.
After completing his 2010 season, he went undrafted but caught on with the New York Giants where he won a Super Bowl in 2012. He re-signed with the Giants this year, and will be back on the roster again, after missing last year due to injury.
He’s an author, who’s book “What It Takes: Fighting For My Life and My Love of the Game” is a must read for any BC fan, or anyone who wants to read an inspirational story. He gives back to his community as well, most recently helping New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman through chemotherapy treatments. standing up for sexual abuses survivor rights alongside his wife Danielle and Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order releasing PSA’s like this one:
Mark Herzlich has certainly made his mark both on the field and off, and is everything a BC grad should be. We are proud that we can call him a fellow Eagle, and now a member of the BCI Hall of Fame.