ESPN GameDay and the Mark Herzlich story

ESPN took some heat in the blogosphere earlier this week for its decision to send its College GameDay crew to Boston College. After all, the 3-1 Eagles’ matchup with 2-2 Florida State isn’t even the best game today involving an ACC team.

But as the Eagle in Atlanta blog explained Monday, GameDay had plenty of good reasons to go to Chestnut Hill this week, none better than this one:

2. The Mark Herzlich story. ESPN is putting together a feature on Herzy. His story is compelling and his early prognosis is very good. If he returns to play next season, ESPN is out in front of what could be a huge general news story.

In case you’re not familiar with his story, Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, was diagnosed in the offseason with a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. Known on the field for the eye black he wears like war paint, Herzlich has said from the start that he plans to play again. Earlier this week, he gave ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt the great news that the cancer has gone into remission.

Herzlich has thrown himself into raising awareness about cancer and money for research with the same intensity that he shows on the field. Since his diagnosis, he and his teammates have become involved with the charity Uplifting Athletes. Boston College is selling “Beat Cancer 94” T-shirts, with all the profits going to the American Cancer Society. And for today’s game, Herzlich recorded this message encouraging BC fans to wear the shirts and “gold out” Alumni Stadium:

Perhaps just as impressive has been the way other ACC teams have rallied to support Herzlich:

  • Before the Sept. 19 BC-Clemson game, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney presented Herzlich with a $5,000 check for Uplifting Athletes and a No. 94 Clemson jersey signed by the whole team.
  • The Florida State Student Alumni Association, the FSU Alumni Association and the FSU Foundation are working together to contribute $9,400 for Ewing’s sarcoma research.
  • A fundraiser at Virginia Tech has already surpassed the original goal of $5,094. The Hokies are now trying to get to $9,400, too.

If you want to donate in Herzlich’s honor, Uplifting Athletes is running an ACC Fan Challenge. And oh, yeah, expect Herzlich to be back on the field terrorizing your team’s quarterback next season.

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