The NFL Draft has officially concluded and normally the rush to sign the top undrafted free agents would begin. This year it’s a little different. This year we won’t have that rush for our teams to sign the guys we thought should have been drafted. This year we will wait for the work stoppage to end until these guys get their chance.
One of those guys is not your average undrafted rookie free agent looking to be the next James Harrison. He is Mark Herzlich. I can count the number of NFL players that have impacted my life as a human being on one hand (actually two fingers) and this guy is one of them. I am the unofficial president of the Mark Herzlich fan club.
Mark’s illness and recovery have been well documented. If you are a Boston College fan or avid college football fan you have become aware of Ewing’s Sarcoma because of Mark Herzlich. There was a point in Herzlich’s college career that many thought he would be a top 20 pick whenever he decided to come out. After chemotherapy treatment and the insertion of a rod to reinforce the cancerous bone in his leg, Herzlich draft status was the least of the concerns. He began the fight for his life and of his life.
In a day and age when off the field issues, character issues, and maturity issues lead the conversation about top prospects we have a true story worth writing (if not worth drafting). Herzlich was given a 70% chance to live and 0% chance of playing football ever again when he was diagnosed in 2009. Unbelievably, Herzlich not only played but started all 13 games in 2010. It is a given that he didn’t play to his 2008 standard that earned him All ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. However, he was able to conjure up 65 tackles and 4 INT’s in 2010.
This seems like a guy you would want on your NFL team. Right? Well all 32 teams passed on this guy for the likes of an acquitted murderer, numerous guys with multiple failed drug tests, and many entertainers and icons. I have no doubts that Herzlich has lost a step from his top form of 2008 but how does this MAN go undrafted. Not even Mr. Irrelevant would open his arms to have Mark Herzlich join the ranks of relevancy.
To all NFL GM’s: Mark Herzlich beat cancer and came back to play (albeit not at a level you are accustomed to from a draftable player) in a little over a year. Doctors gave him 0% chance of playing football. You can continue to listen to your team doctors, scouts, and anyone else filtering information but this guy deserves to be drafted. Not for the story but the will and determination. This is a guy you want in a locker room, this guy is capable of leading a defense, and this guy will make your NFL team.
I am leading the charge for Mark Herzlich to join my football team of choice (Browns, everyone knows it already) and imploring my front office to sign this guy.