Giants Sign Cancer-Surviving Linebacker

Boston College star was ignored at the draft

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Mark Herzlich participates in a drill during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in February.

    The Giants made a cancer survivor their first free agent signing of the salvaged football season.

    Mark Herzlich, the inspirational Boston College star who was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, then missed the next season battling a deadly form of bone cancer before returning to form last year, tweeted that he signed a free agent deal.

    "Decision is made I will be a #GIANT can't wait to get to NYC. Thank you for everything," he announced on Twitter.

    Herzlich was subjected to potential humiliation when the NFL invited him to the draft, likely sensing a feel-good story. When his name wasn't called, the league was criticized for putting him through the futile exercise.

    Herzlich admitted later he was hurt and frustrated. But he said he channeled the same determination that brought him back from cancer, vowing to make it in the league as a free agent.

    "I'm ecstatic and pumped,'' the 6-foot-3, 245-pound linebacker told the Boston Globe. Although he spoke from his family's home in Pennsylvania, he noted he grew up in Connecticut a fan of Big Blue.

    There's a connection between Boston College and the Giants, in the person of New York Coach Tom Coughlin, who coached college football's Eagles early in his career.

    Giants' owner John Mara pressed for his front office to make the offer, according to ESPN

    "He's a great kid and he's certainly had his share of obstacles to overcome," Mara said. "And we're excited to give him the opportunity."

    Herzlich, considered one of the nation's top linebackers before he got cancer, said he's all the way back.

    "My health is great right now," he told ESPN. "I had my checkup yesterday actually ... and everything was cleared and everything was fine."