LB announced Saturday that he's 99.9 percent cancer-free
October 3, 2009, 4:28 PM
By: Chris Forsberg
CHESTNUT HILL -- As Linkin Park's "New Divide" began to fill Alumni Stadium during pregame warm-ups, Boston College's Mark Herzlich started bobbing up and down as his linebacker brethren warmed up nearby.
This is when it gets difficult for Herzlich, whose 2008 season was interrupted May 14 when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma after doctors found a malignant tumor in his leg.
The combination of the music, the fans, and the energy of his teammates on the field all build up inside him. But it's not until he watches the team run out on the field a short time later that it gets really difficult.
Mark Herzlich, right, stops and talks to Doug Flutie before Saturday's BC-FSU game.
"The hardest part of game days? Not being able to run on the field and hit someone," he said. "The best part is being around these guys and getting wins. It doesn't matter whether you're a coach or a player."
Herzlich, who has morphed into what he calls an assistant assistant coach this fall, enjoys being around this year's team. With Chestnut Hill the center of the college football universe Saturday with ESPN's "College GameDay" in town, Herzlich took time to revel in it all.
That included stopping by the show's set to announce that he's been told by doctors this week that he's 99.9 percent cancer-free, and reiterating that he'll be back next season.
The BC fans, including many of his family, friends, and classmates, erupted in cheers at the announcement. Herzlich, who seems impossible to ruffle -- he hardly blinked in the face of cancer -- admitted later it gave him goosebumps.
"This school has really rallied behind me the whole time," he said. "It's been really awesome to have their support."
Herzlich wandered outside Alumni Stadium before the game, greeting the stream of well-wishers that came up to him, many of whom wore his "Beat Cancer" T-shirts that feature the Eagles logo in his trademark eye black. Outside one entrance, Herzlich bumped into BC legend Doug Flutie, and the two spent time catching up.
"Doug's a good friend of mine," Herzlich said. "We've talked in the past, and he's been very supportive of me."
Herzlich didn't lead the team on to the field Saturday, but came to the bench area early with a microphone in his hands. He took the field to deafening cheers and roamed near midfield while pumping up the crowd before the Eagles took the field.
"Now is when the real fun happens," Herzlich told ESPNBoston.com right before the announcement. "It's time for us to go get a win."
Chris Forsberg has been reporting on the Boston sports scene since 1999. With his video camera in tow, Forsberg covered everything from Massachusetts high school sports to Boston's pro sports teams. Follow him on Twitter and send questions to his mailbag.