KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs safety Eric Berry’s incredible journey a little more than a year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma received a high mark of recognition Tuesday night when the NFL announced Berry was named to the Pro Bowl.
But while Berry appreciates the honor of making a fourth Pro Bowl in his sixth season, he has other goals.
“It’s one of those checkpoints,” Berry said. “You know I’m excited about it, but right now, I feel like I have more stuff to focus on. It’s good and everything, but right now I’m just focused on something different.”
A large part of Berry’s focus surrounds constant improvement as the Chiefs head into the final two games in a postseason chase.
“Right now I just want to keep getting better, keep getting better every day I step on the field or in the meeting room and just try to keep striving for greatness,” Berry said. “That’s the main goal.”
Berry acknowledged the support he received throughout his recovery process and leading to earning the Pro Bowl recognition.
But he was driven to get reach where he is now as the Chiefs’ third leading tackler with 58 (52 solo) on one of the NFL’s top defensive units. He also has two interceptions and eight passes defensed while appearing in all 14 games with 13 starts.
“I kind of brainwashed myself from the get-go just that I was going to be where I was and better throughout the whole process,” Berry said.” I just kind of started mentally picturing myself where I wanted to be. I just focused on that every day and just kept striving for it every day.”
Berry’s dedication to return to football and play at a high level continues to impress coach Andy Reid.
“He was so driven that way that you kind of had a feeling that he was going to get there, as crazy as that sounds,” Reid said. “When you look back on it, and now that it’s real, what a great story. True toughness and grit to be able to do that.”
The Chiefs head coach offered a reminder that Berry didn’t have hair when he started the treatment process and the medicine took its toll on Berry’s body.
But the growth of hair signaled a positive step on the road to recovery.
“He was able to come back and I kind of joked about it, but was serious, the more his hair grew back, the stronger his body became as he went,” Reid said. “Here he is today as a Pro Bowl player.”
Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.