The NFL landscape was completely shocked on Monday when, during their weekly press conference, the Kansas City Chiefs revealed that an MRI showed a potentially cancerous mass on the right side of starting safety Eric Berry’s chest.
Berry has been one of the NFL’s most hard-working and likable players since he was drafted 5th overall by the Chiefs in 2010. He is a former Jim Thorpe Award winner (’09), All-American (’08 and ’09), three time Pro Bowler (’10, ’12 and ’13) and First-team All Pro (’13).
The Chiefs placed Berry on the non-football illness list and he will miss the remainder of the season.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Berry First Felt Discomfort After Thursday Night’s Game Against Oakland
Immediately following Thursday night’s 24-20 road loss to the Oakland Raiders, Berry approached Kansas City Chiefs trainers and said that he was feeling some chest discomfort.
2.Berry Has Not Been Officially Diagnosed
The Chiefs conducted x-rays on Friday, and follow-up tests were done on Saturday at University of Kansas Medical Center. The results of those tests revealed that Berry had a mass on the right side of his chest.
During Monday afternoon’s weekly press conference, Chiefs head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said that Berry had not complained about anything prior to Thursday night, and that currently the leading consideration is lymphoma, a type of cancer that is a part of the immune system called the lymph system – specifically, white blood cells.
3. Berry Released a Statement & Has Remained Overwhelmingly Positive
Berry released a statement on the Chiefs’ official website:
“I am truly thankful for all of the support from family, friends, coaches, teammates and the entire Chiefs kingdom. At first I was in shock with the diagnosis on Saturday and did not even want to miss a game, but I understand that right now I have to concentrate on a new opponent. I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. I believe that I am in God’s hands and I have great peace in that. I know my coaches and teammates will hold things down here the rest of the season and until I am back running out of the tunnel at Arrowhead. I am so thankful and appreciative of being a part of this franchise and playing in front of the best fans in the NFL. I will be back!”
4. Emory University Hospital Is 1 of the Nation’s Leading Research Universities
Monday’s press conference also revealed that Berry will head down Emory University Hospital in Atlanta to see a lymphoma specialist where he will be further evaluated and a diagnosis will be made.
The Hospital has recently been in the news more frequently over the last three months due to the recent Ebola scare and infected patients being transported from Africa – as well as a few cases in the United States – to Emory University for treatment.
Emory University Hospital through Winship is ranked among the top 25 cancer hospitals in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report.
5. Just Like #ChuckStrong, Support Berry and Use #BerryStrong
In 2012, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, which cost him 12 games. Then, Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians stepped in until Pagano returned to active coaching on December 24, 2012. During that time, #ChuckStrong became a popular trending hashtag on Twitter as players, coaches and fans showed their support.
Although there is no set timetable for Berry’s return, he’ll have all of the support he needs in the meantime.