Eric Berry's Contract Extension Means the "Heartbeat" of the Team Stays in KC

Berry signed a contract extension with the Chiefs on Tuesday afternoon

It's the move everyone was hoping would happen—the Kansas City Chiefs have reached a multi-year contract extension with All-Pro safety Eric Berry.

It's a story and a journey that's well known by now—the No. 5 overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft out of the University of Tennessee has made five Pro Bowls, including two straight after beating a Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis that caused him to miss much of the 2014 season.

The way in which Berry returned to the field after beating cancer is what led to him winning the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award in 2015.

There's no questioning his abilities on the field, and there's even less to question with his leadership away from it.

"He was the heartbeat of our team, and it's been that way for the past couple of years," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Berry at the 101 Awards ceremony on Sunday night. "He represents everything the Chiefs are about."

Berry was the unanimous choice as the Derrick Thomas Award winner this year—given to the team's Most Valuable Player.

Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt stated that night that a player being a unanimous choice for an award like this is unique, and it's one that Berry takes to heart.

"I'm going to keep focusing on giving everything I have to this craft, everything I have to this sport—keep embracing the moments and put everything I have into those moments," Berry explained. "I'm just very thankful to be a part of this organization."

This contract extension also means more special moments are coming from Berry in the future, but none may ever top what he did last season during the Chiefs' 29-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Berry, who grew up 25 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta in the community of Fairburn, added another chapter to his amazing journey that day at the Georgia Dome, which sits just a few blocks from Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute, where he underwent chemotherapy treatments during his battle with cancer less than two years ago.

In front of friends and family and those who helped him through the biggest challenge of his life, Berry made two plays that will forever be etched in the minds of those who were watching—the first was his second pick-six of the season and the other was a pick-two, which had never happened in an NFL game before.

Both plays helped the Chiefs beat the Falcons—the eventual NFC champions.

To make the moments even more special—after his pick-six, Berry took the ball to his mother in the stands. After his pick-two, he took the ball to his father.

Berry said after that game that while the moments on the field will forever be remembered by his coaches, teammates and fans for what they did in leading them to a victory that day—the feeling they provided his family—his support system—was what was special for him.

"I just wanted to show everybody that the support I had and the people that put everything on the line to make sure I was OK—that it wasn't in vain," Berry explained. "I was listening to them when they told me to keep pushing. I was listening to them when they told me to keep staying focused, and I was listening to them when they said that I'd be back one day and playing the game how I want to.

"That goes for my parents, my family, to number 50 (Justin Houston), to Ron Parker – we talked about this stuff in my living room right after cancer treatments. It's truly an opportunity that I'm thankful for and I won't take it for granted." 

That was a special day for Berry, his family, and for everyone involved with the Chiefs, and on Sunday night, Berry, in his own way, showed his leadership when asked his thoughts on individual awards that came from performances like that one against the Falcons.

"Bringing people together to do great things, I think that's the part you have to take pride in," Berry explained, "The individual accolades and stuff like that really don't mean anything if you're not helping the team as a unit achieve your goals."

There's no denying a genuine and real connection between Chiefs fans and Berry, whom they've supported through challenges that go well beyond the football field, and it's a connection that's special to him as well.

"It's amazing, man," Berry explained. "It's one of those deals where you actually got to see unconditional love from a complete stranger that genuinely cares about you and wants you to do well. You can see what power that holds—the compassion.

"Even though it's for sports, I'd like to see it more between individuals, period. Whether you play a sport or not because there's a lot of people out there hurting and people who need that compassion and unconditional love. That's the one thing I'm very appreciative of—is to actually experience that from people who were wanting to see me get better and see me perform and succeed."

These same people will have continued to support Berry whether he was in a Chiefs uniform or not—that's simply the connection they share.

But throughout this entire process, Berry expressed a desire to stay in Kansas City while Hunt, general manager John Dorsey and Reid expressed a desire to bring him back, and they got it done. 

The heartbeat of the team is staying in Kansas City.

A look at some of the best photos of Eric Berry throughout the years

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