"I was as big time as it gets," linebacker Mark Herzlich recalls about his junior year at Boston College. At 6' 4" tall, Herzlich was 240 pounds of high-speed muscle and determination. After graduation, the All-American was expected to grab the golden ring of sports and be chosen in the first round of the NFL draft.
But Herzlich's life didn't go that way. In the spring of 2009, Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma. It's rare bone cancer, striking fewer than 400 Americans a year, and it can be deadly: 30% don't survive.
As Byron Pitts reports this week on "60 Minutes" - "for the next two years, Mark Herzlich would wage two battles: one of his life, the other for a future in football."
Watch Byron Pitt's report, "All-American," by clicking here.
Herzlich didn't go into these battles alone. In addition to his family, Herzlich had childhood friend Zack Migeot, whose loyalty so impressed us at "60 Minutes Overtime" that we decided to delve into it this week in our piece "Best friends forever, fighting cancer together."
Mark Herzlich has described his friend Zack as his "secret weapon," "someone sent from God," and "a brother" in his battle against cancer. As Byron Pitt's told Overtime, "There's an old saying: Sometimes in life you have to go to the mattresses. And when you go to the mattresses, you want people who will fight for you. That's the kind of friend that Zack is."
And, Zack proved it, day in and day out showing up at the family home at 7 a.m. to accompany Mark to each of his chemotherapy and radiation treatments throughout the summer of 2009. "I don't know if I could have done it without him," Mark says. "It's that simple."
Today, Mark Herzlich has realized his NFL dream: he's a member of the New York Giants. Meanwhile Zack, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, is still getting used to that and isn't sure which team to root for when they face each other.
Hospital photos courtesy of Scott Lewis Photography