Eric Berry will go down in NFL history as one of the greatest safeties there ever was. From his days in college, Berry has proved what a great talent he is on the field. His talent combined with an amazing personality has made him one of the most admirable NFL players. However, like every other NFL player, Berry’s career hasn’t been without setbacks. Perhaps the most horrifying was the cancer scare in 2014. Ultimately, Berry emerged as a winner in the brief but emotional cancer bout that sought to truncate his career. Three years and counting since being declared cancer-free and Eric Berry continues to enjoy an amazing career that many can only wish for. The 2016 contract extension inked with the Kansas City Chiefs easily made him the highest-paid safety in the league.
Eric Berry Biography
Berry was born James Eric Berry on December 29, 1988, in Atlanta, Georgia. He inherited his athletic side from his father James who played college football as a running back for the University of Tennessee. He played from 1978 to 1981 when he was named the team captain. Eric Berry has two younger brothers twins Elliott and Evan who both played college football at the University of Tennessee. Evan plays in the NFL as a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns.
At Creekside High School in Fairburn, Eric Berry became a star athlete, running the track and playing football. Following his high school graduation, Berry who received offers from various schools followed in the footsteps of his father by attending the University of Tennessee. Berry also inherited his father’s leadership qualities as he was named the college team’s captain in his sophomore year. Berry went on to stage an incredible college career being named as a finalist for the 2008 Jim Thorpe Award, the Lott Trophy, and the Chuck Bednarik Award. He won the Jim Thorpe in 2009 before forgoing his last year of eligibility to enter the 2010 NFL draft.
Named as a top prospect by a number of sports publications, Eric Berry was the first defensive back to be drafted. The Kansas City Chiefs had selected him the first round (fifth overall). He was signed to a 6-year contract worth $60 million.
Berry had an outstanding rookie season, helping to improve the ratings of his team’s defense. He became the first Chiefs rookie since Derrick Thomas in 1989 to be named to the Pro Bowl.
His first major career injury came in September 2011. He had torn his ACL, and after 9 months of recovery, he was back to the team quickly reclaiming his role as the starting strong safety.
Another setback hit Berry’s career when he was diagnosed with cancer in December 2014. Ultimately, Berry overcame the illness and resumed normal service with his team less than 6 months from when he was diagnosed. He improved his overall value and was named the 2015 AP Comeback Player of the Year. As of 2018, Eric Berry has been named to the Pro Bowl at least 5 times and has at least thrice been named First-team All-Pro.
Eric Berry is well rewarded for his incredible talents. His ability to improve his play by the year has made him a very valuable player to the Chiefs. Following the expiration of his first contract with the Chiefs, the franchise in 2017 signed him to a record six-year, $78 million contract which saw him become the highest-paid safety in the NFL. The contract came with $40 million guaranteed and a $20 million signing bonus. The deal saw him make his second appearance on Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid athletes at number 34 with a yearly earning of $31.1 million with over 90% stemming from his salary with the Chiefs. The rest came from his endorsement deal with Adidas who has been his partner since May 2010.
According to his profile on the official NFL website, Eric Berry’s career stats as at the end of the 2017 season include;
Total tackles: 434
Forced fumbles: 3
Pass deflections: 50
Defensive touchdowns: 5
What Kind of Cancer Did He Suffer From?
Eric Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early December 2014, a few weeks after he got himself checked following a pain in his chest. Doctors discovered a mass in his chest. Berry was treated by lymphoma specialist Christopher Flowers of the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Upon revealing the diagnosis, Dr. Flowers explained that recent medical advancement in research had made Hodgkin’s lymphoma highly treatable. Applying standard chemotherapy approaches, Berry’s cancer was fully treated by June 2015 when he was cleared to resume his football career.
The prognosis for Hodgkin’s lymphoma continues to improve, as shown by recent medical studies.