Cancer beaten, Herzlich just wants to play
The Sports Xchange
LB Mark Herzlich was the subject of a segment on last week's 60
Minutes news program that profiled his successful battle with Ewing's
sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that he beat after initially being
told by a doctor his days of playing football were over.
just gotta prove I can help this team win," Herzlich told 60 Minutes
correspondent Byron Pitts when asked what he had to prove. "(The
Giants) asked me to come here because they wanted to see if I could
play football and not to see if I was over my cancer."
doing just that as he has become one of the consistent forces on
special teams, the path many rookies must take in order to prove their
worthiness for snaps on offense or defense.
Last week against
Miami, Herzlich, who was moved back to join the two-man wedge on
kickoffs, came up with a key block on Devin Thomas' 40-yard return
against the Dolphins. He also showed a consistent ability to shed
would-be blockers along with a nice burst of speed that got him down
the field and into the thick of things.
"It's mostly about
effort," Herzlich said about playing special teams. "Technique comes
into play when you're actually executing what you're supposed to do,
but you just have to go out and find the guy you're going to go up
against and win your battle one-on-one."
Herzlich, who hopes to
eventually get some snaps on defense, noted that special teams is one
of the fastest parts of the game, and that its unpredictability makes
it a rewarding challenge to master.
"Defense is a lot of
studying and recognizing what plays are going to be, being in an exact
position at an exact time," he said. "Special teams, however, is a
controlled chaos. Things can change at any point, so if a guy's running
down the field and you're supposed to block him, all of a sudden
someone else picks him up because he weaved inside, then you have to go
pick up someone else."
He shook his head when asked if there was much
that could be taken from special teams over to the defense.
"I think probably the only real similarity is that you have to make an
open field tackle," he said. "Other than that, I never blocked a person
on defense in my entire life, so it's kind of a whole different
If there is one other benefit to playing special
teams, Herzlich said that it challenges a player to think quickly on
"It's one of the fastest plays in the entire game.
think it's more that you have to have your mind quicker and be able to
adjust on the fly."
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