Monday, October 26, 2015

Like Lemieux, Chiefs' Berry transcends results

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, 10:30 p.m.
Eric Berry celebrates after his first interception since beating cancer. (Photo:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Crowds aren't that loud. Teammates aren't that excited. Celebrations aren't that premeditated.
That was no ordinary interception by Chiefs safety Eric Berry on Sunday.
It was an extraordinary moment that the influential NFL should mandate spends a couple of days topping the A-blocks on “SportsCenter” and “Fox Sports Live,” not to mention “Morning Joe” and “Live with Kelly and Michael.” Make Stephen and the Jimmies work it into their late-night monologues, too.
For all the awful stories, there are a lot more awesome ones involving football players.
Berry, though, is The Story of this NFL season. His third-quarter interception of Steelers quarterback Landry Jones — not to mention the bow-and-arrow pose that followed the pick — is The Shot of this NFL season.
That wasn't an excessive celebration.
That was a symbolic shooting down of a foe that Berry and everybody around Kansas City — and back in Pittsburgh — has come to know all too well.
You lose again, Hodgkin's.
And Berry has the football to prove it. Just like somewhere Mario Lemieux has the puck from the first goal he scored after beating Hodgkin's.
“I've heard of him,” Berry said of Lemieux. “I know he had it a while ago. We never were in contact during my stuff, but he was somebody who I knew beat it.
“I heard he beat it pretty good, huh?”
He did, but there are no style points when it comes to beating cancer. Beat it, and it's the best victory ever. Better than a 23-13 win, that's for sure.
The final score is not what will be remembered about Sunday. Not years from now. Not weeks from now.
The Chiefs are 2-5, probably going nowhere. The Steelers are 4-3, but two of those losses were without Ben Roethlisberger. When their franchise quarterback returns from injury, the Steelers could go somewhere special, somewhere super.
Who cares?
Berry, 26, went home after playing a football game on Sunday.
That's special.
That's super.
That's super special, and it's not something to take for granted.
Neither is Hodgkin's lymphoma, even though it is one of the most curable forms of cancer. On Sunday, long-time NBA coach Flip Saunders, who was only 60, died from the disease.
The American Cancer Society reports the five-year survival rate is 85 percent. The 10-year rate is at 80 percent.
Reports and statistics don't tell the tale of any cancer. People tell those tales. Some people tell on behalf of loved ones lost to cancer. Thankfully, more and more people are cancer survivors and can tell for themselves.
Berry's tale began with a pain in his chest late last November. A few weeks later, a mass in that area was diagnosed as Hodgkin's lymphoma. Lemieux's tale began with a lump in his neck in January 1993. Tests revealed what was then known as Hodgkin's disease.
Both tales are of athletes who returned to action.
Who cares?
Berry and Lemieux are still here.
Hodgkin's accounts for about 8 percent of all lymphomas, and young men are most likely to develop the cancer.
Berry was 25. Lemieux was 28. They were basically boys living their dreams. They were also doing things that wouldn't seem possible in the dreams of most boys.
Berry was a three-time Pro Bowler. Lemieux was a twice defending champion and playoff MVP, and in the midst of potentially hockey's greatest offensive season.
Again, who cares?
Berry and Lemieux are still around.
Hockey is not about scoring goals, though Lemieux's the night of his final radiation treatment was not easily believed on March 2, 1993. That moment briefly turned Philadelphians into Pittsburghers.
Football is not grabbing interceptions, though Berry's first since beating Hodgkin's was a sight to behold on Sunday. That moment briefly turned this Pittsburgh columnist into a Kansas City fan.
As he tried to leave Arrowhead Stadium, Berry asked if I knew Lemieux. He wanted to deliver a message that connects their tales.
“Tell him I said congrats,” Berry said.
Will be my pleasure. But I'm guessing Berry soon will receive a call from Mario, who will want to deliver a message of his own.
Survivor to survivor, how sweet it will be.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

Read more: 
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

No comments: