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Eric Berry named NFL's Comeback Player of the Year


SAN FRANCISCO -- Eric Berry's return from Hodgkin's lymphoma was, in the eyes of many, the best story in football this season.

The Associated Press agrees, naming the Kansas City Chiefs safety their Comeback Player of the Year at NFL Honors on Saturday.

"There were some tough times. There were times I felt like I couldn't do it anymore," Berry said in his acceptance speech. "There were times of uncertainty. ... There were a lot of lonely nights but my mom was right there. ... When I lost my hair, (my dad) shaved his head so I wouldn't be by myself and I love you to death for that."

Berry added, "I knew I would be here, but I feel like I'm dreaming right now."

After leaving the team late in 2014 to battle his illness, Berry roared back in 2015 to earn his fourth Pro Bowl selection and second first-team All-Pro nod, looking as good as ever for a Chiefs defense that surged down the stretch during Kansas City's heady 11-game win streak.

"Oh man, it was terrifying at first," Berry told NFL Media's Alex Flanagan on Thursday's edition of Super Bowl Live. "Just hearing 'You have cancer' -- it was tough. But I had a great support system."

Berry told Flanagan that he never considered walking away from the game, saying: "That wasn't even my focus. My focus at first was just getting healthy and getting back to E.B., being able to have a normal day. Then I just started seeing progress. And I was like, 'Man, I'm going to get back on the field.'"

Berry dominated the race for Comeback honors, netting 38 of the 50 votes. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer finished second with six votes ahead of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson with four. San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman and Bucs running back Doug Martin each grabbed a solo vote.

At 27, Berry still has plenty of time left to add to his legacy as one of the league's top safeties. The Chiefs plan to keep him around, too, with NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reporting that Kansas City is ramping up talks on a new contract for the soon-to-be free agent.

That's business for another time. Today we can celebrate what Berry has accomplished.


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