Eric Berry Wins NFL Comeback Player of the Year

The best story in sports in 2015 just got more recognition

He wasn't just fighting for his career; he was fighting for his life.

Now, 430 days after his first round of chemotherapy, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry has been named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year for 2015.

The award was announced on Saturday night at the NFL Honors show, which was hosted by Conan O' Brien and took place in San Francisco, California.  

It's hard to have imagined a scenario in which Berry didn't win this award.

Berry beat cancer and returned to the field less than a year later, put together an All-Pro season and served as the vocal leader for a team that made history after starting the season 1-5, only to storm back with 10 straight regular season wins to make the playoffs.

Berry also helped lead the Chiefs to their first playoff win in more than 22 years with their 30-0 shutout of the Houston Texans. It was the first shutout in a playoff game in more than a decade.

He finished that game with 3 tackles and a first-quarter interception.

It's like something out of a movie, and after all of that, Berry knows winning this award will mean something to a lot of people.

"To be honest with you, I think it will mean a lot for the people who followed my story—the people who are going through things and fighting through something like cancer," Berry explained of winning the award. "I just wanted to show those people anything is possible and that you can't let anything come between you and your dreams.

"As long as somebody sees my story and is inspired, I think that was my main goal going through everything that I went through—just being strong for people who couldn't be strong for themselves."

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It's hard to put into words what Berry accomplished over the past year and this award is just another reminder of just how truly special he is—not just as a football player, but as a person.

"Eric is a very, very special person," Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. "And I say that even not taking into consideration the health problems he's had over the past year—overcoming cancer. He's somebody who has been a great player and a team leader. His ability and willingness to come back from the cancer treatments that he'd been through in early 2015 says so much about him as a person.

"I think that desire and that passion for the game really had an impact on the Chiefs throughout the 2016 season. I think he was somebody they could rally around early in the year when things weren't going well. He wasn't somebody who put his head down and he really helped the team get the season turned around and make the playoffs."

A look at some of the top photos of Eric Berry throughout the 2015 season.

It was last January that Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt, along with general manager John Dorsey and a few others from the organization flew down to Georgia to visit with Berry as he was going through his treatments.

"Our concern for Eric last year at this time was really whether he was going to beat cancer," Hunt explained. "We weren't thinking about him as a football player. We were thinking about him as a person."

Berry said the past year has strengthened his bond with the organization.

"It strengthened it up a lot," Berry said. "Even before they came down to visit me, the relationship we had and the understanding of what we bring to the table and the organization—I think has been pretty cool."

Berry said he hasn't really had the time to step back and reflect on everything he's been through over the past year, but he's planning on taking a two-week solo vacation to the Caribbean after the Super Bowl to do just that.

"Just to clear my head and sit back and reflect," he explained of the trip. "Finally just sit back and chill for a minute. Ever since 2014, it has been just a nonstop grind, whether it was getting ready for the season, playing part of the season and then getting diagnosed, going through chemo and everything like that, man, I just haven't had a break yet.

"So, hopefully I get a chance to do that now."

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He said he's going to take some time off before he starts preparing for the 2016 season, but that he already knows what he's going to work on when that time comes around.

"The biggest thing I want to work on this offseason is just the mental aspect of the game," he noted. "Last year, I just had to work on everything so I could just to be ready for the season. This year it will be a little more focused on the techniques and situational football, and things I saw this year that will help us win games or put us in position to win more games."

At this point, it's probably safe to say, there's nothing he can't do.

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