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Eric Berry's Return to the Field Was the Real Win on Saturday Night

It was a night to remember in Arizona

The scoreboard might have read 34-19 in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night, but for anyone who watched the game, the real winner was veteran safety Eric Berry.

From the moment he boarded the team plane Friday afternoon in Kansas City up until the postgame press conference, the weekend belonged to him.

After the game, Berry opened up about what the past 48 hours had been like for him.

"I broke down on the plane on the way out here," Berry explained. "It all just hit me. You take the little things in and appreciate everything about the game and everything that surrounds the game. Just the smell of the grass, the crowd, the food; being in the locker room with my teammates and greeting security at the airport, I missed stuff like that.

"It is just a blessing to be out here."

It had been 264 days since Berry had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma before Saturday night's matchup against the Cardinals.

After six months of chemotherapy and being declared cancer-free on June 22, the anticipation for Berry to get back on the field was hard for him to contain.


"He was out of control in the locker room before the game," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "He was just excited and ready to go. I'm very happy for him.

"It made the night for him to be out on the field."

Before kickoff when the team ran back onto the field, Berry ran over to his mother, Carol, who was on the sidelines and gave her a hug.

It was one of those moments that a picture couldn't tell the whole story.

Both of them were emotional at a time in which it became even more obvious that the night was about more than football.

"She was there from day one," Berry said of his mother. "We went through a lot together and she saw me at my worst. We talked about this moment and I think that's why she came to tears like that.  It's something we talked about when I was laying in the hospital bed or just in the room up at four in the morning. She was telling me everything would be OK because I just couldn't stop crying.

"A lot of people talk about the person going through the situation, but they don't talk about the caregiver. I can see how stressful it was for her and how it weighed on her. She was going through things outside of my deal, so for her to put everything on the side and just deal with me, it was a blessing to have her on my side."

The Kansas City Chiefs take on the Arizona Cardinals in week one of the 2015 preseason.

Berry has already been paying that blessing forward as he's had plenty of fans come by training camp with their own stories to try and share with him.

"I've been running into a lot of people that don't even know about football telling me that their cousin has been diagnosed with cancer or their mom or aunt," he explained. "They just tell me that they have hope because they see me out on the field, and that means a lot to me.

"It's amazing to see everybody else get so much hope just from seeing me strap on the pads. Before I even get on the field, to see me practice and see me out there with the team, it does so much for them. I just have to go hard and give everything I have to give them hope.

"I just have to take advantage of this opportunity because it's bigger than football."

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