Eric Berry has twice overcome season-ending injuries Jarvis Landry Jersey , and the way the Kansas City Chiefs safety came back from a cancer diagnosis to play the following season was nothing short of inspirational.
In other words, Berry has every reason to rue what might have been.
Yet the undisputed leader of the Chiefs secondary would be driven to distraction if he wasted much time feeling sorry for himself.
Instead, Berry preferred to use the two-plus seasons spent on the sideline as a learning opportunity, a chance to better himself mentally and emotionally if not physically.
"I learned so much," he explained after the Chiefs' first padded practice of training camp on the fields of Missouri Western State University.
"The whole cancer deal was a privilege, to be honest with you. A blessing. Because I learned so much, and so many people inspired me. Just being to connect with them, the common thread of having cancer and overcoming it, I can't tell you what it means to me."
Berry learned similar lessons about overcoming adversity, keeping a positive mindset and focusing on what he could control when he lost seasons to a torn ACL and a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
The knee injury occurred in 2011, his second year in the league, when he was coming off a breakout rookie year that ended in the Pro Bowl. Berry was blocked low by Buffalo wide receiver Steve Johnson in their season opener and wound up missing the rest of the season.
He returned to make two straight Pro Bowls, and was voted an All-Pro in 2013, the year before his cancer diagnosis. Berry underwent chemotherapy and other treatments and the lymphoma went into remission Darren Woodson Jersey , and he was back on the field in his familiar No. 29 jersey in time for training camp.
Two more Pro Bowl appearances and two more All-Pro nods followed suit.
Then came last year's opener in New England, when the Chiefs were busy rolling to a dominant victory over the Patriots. Berry went down with a seemingly innocuous injury that ultimately marred an impressive win when it was revealed that he tore the tendon on the backside of his left ankle.
"My second year, I felt like I was probably the best shape of my life, and I was starting to learn the defense and acclimating to what was going on around me," Berry said. "Then the cancer hit when I was getting to my peak, getting to where I needed to be. Same thing last year.
"But you really can't wonder where you'd be because I learned so much throughout all three of those processes," he added, "and I just keep going. I can't really tell you where I'd be."
Chances are he'd still be in the middle of the Kansas City secondary.
"I mean, look, Eric's our leader. We appreciate when he's out there going, the guys feed off him," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "It's the whole story, the whole thing that he went through, the fact that he does everything out here and works his tail off. It's a phenomenal story."
The Chiefs are counting on Berry to provide guidance and leadership to a defensive backfield that will have an entirely new look this season. Star cornerback Marcus Peters was traded to the Rams earlier this year in an attempt to improve the locker room culture Kevin Zeitler Jersey , and veterans Terrance Mitchell and Ron Parker were let go as new general manager Brett Veach made his mark on the roster.
Kansas City will have a pair of new starters at cornerback 鈥?Steven Nelson and Kendall Fuller are the front-runners 鈥?along with a new nickel back. And while Daniel Sorensen could reprise his role at one of the safety spots after taking over for Berry last season, there is a good chance athletic and talented rookie Armani Watts could eventually line up at the free safety spot.
"That's our leader, man. He's been here the longest and he's been doing it for a long time at a high level," Nelson said. "Just his presence alone, man, it's motivating."
Doesn't matter that the first preseason game is still a couple of weeks away.
"I think it's a good feeling to see guys who you know are leaders on this team back in their roles, doing what they do," wide receiver Chris Conley said. "He has an impact for this team."
NOTES: RB Kareem Hunt (hamstring) was back at practice Monday after getting a day off, though the team was not in pads. ... LB Ukeme Eligwe missed practice with a foot strain. ... The Chiefs have their first day off of training camp Tuesday.
Atlanta is set to add another expansion franchise 鈥?this time in esports.
The Overwatch League announced Thursday that Atlanta will join the global, city-based esports circuit in 2019, its second season. The team will be managed by Atlanta Esports Ventures, a partnership between Cox Enterprises and Province Inc.
"We've had our eye on Atlanta for a long time," said Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. "It is near the top of the list of remaining Overwatch cities in the world Devontae Booker Jersey , certainly in North America."
The league also announced a new franchise in Guangzhou, China. It plans to add four more franchises before next season, which would bring the total to 18.
The Overwatch League explored awarding Atlanta one of its 12 inaugural franchises but couldn't find an ownership fit for the first season. The league is hoping to capture some of the same enthusiasm backing Atlanta United of the MLS. The soccer club has shattered just about every MLS attendance record since joining the league in 2017.
"There's a lot of Overwatch players there, and not just in Atlanta but in the Southeast," Vlastelica said. "Between Texas, where we have two franchises, and Florida, where we have a franchise, there's a lot of America and a lot of video game players and a lot of Overwatch players. And it's just a great sports market."
Province executive Paul Hamilton will serve as Atlanta's president and general manager. He's a lifelong esports enthusiast and hardcore fan of Blizzard's 6 vs. 6 first-person shooter. He plans to be hands-on regarding player acquisition and roster management.
"I probably have more strong feelings about players than most of the people that are running these teams," Hamilton said. "That may end up not being a good thing, but we'll see."
Player contracts from the league's inaugural season will expire Sept. 9, and the league's expansion franchises will be granted an exclusive free agency window from then until Oct. 7 to fill the bulk of their rosters. The minimum salary for players in the league's inaugural season was $50,000.
Hamilton has been in contact with people from the AMB Group, Arthur Blank's company that manages the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. Hamilton is hoping to build local support in much the same way the soccer team did.
"They really engaged the hardcore fan first Chad Kelly Jersey ," Hamilton said. "They wanted the people that are tried and true."
The Guangzhou franchise was awarded to Nenking Group, which also manages the Guangzhou Long Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Atlanta and Guangzhou have yet to announce team names or unveil logos. Expansion fees were not disclosed. The 12 inaugural franchises were reportedly awarded last year for $20 million each, with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Mets owner Jeff Wilpon among the initial buyers.
Like the rest of the Overwatch League, Atlanta and Guangzhou will be based out of Southern California next season. The league is hosting all matches at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California, until its franchises can find arenas and build the infrastructure necessary for esport events in their host cities. The league hopes to begin holding true home-and-away matches in its third season.
The league's 14 franchises currently span three continents, including first-year champion London, runner-up Philadelphia, Seoul and Shanghai. Vlastelica said the league would likely announce a 15th team in the next week or two, with future expansion focused mostly outside the United States.
London beat Philadelphia in the league's first Grand Finals at Barclays Center in New York last week. The first night of the two-night championship was broadcast live on ESPN, a first for the traditional sports network in prime time.
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