Has Eric Berry’s legacy changed over the last 12 months?


Has Eric Berry’s legacy changed at all in the last year? It’s an interesting question about a player who just returned to the field for the first time in 30 games.

Since being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Eric Berry has turned into a household name and well-respected player around the NFL.

Berry is a 5-time Pro Bowler, a 3-time first-team All-Pro, and the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2015. To say Berry’s career has been anything less than excellent during his tenure with the Chiefs would be asinine.

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Beyond his on-field performance, Berry has proven himself to be a civic leader and franchise icon who has displayed tremendous leadership and courage in the face of incredible adversity—as illustrated best by his victory over Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The fact that he beat cancer, came back to the league and returned to his dominant form is a testament to his talent and work ethic.

Unfortunately, cancer was just one of several battles he’s had to face over time in his quest to remain on the field. In 2017, Berry tore his Achilles in the season opener against the New England Patriots. When he returned this preseason, Berry was then surprisingly sidelined by a sore heel—a “day-to-day” injury that turned serious enough to keep him out for 13 games.

Berry returned to Arrowhead to play in a home game for the first time in over two years last Thursday in Week 15 against the L.A. Chargers. He was placed on a pitch count by head coach Andy Reid and the medical staff, and there were some concerns as to whether or not he would be able to jump in and play right away. He put those concerns to bed, as the defense came out and dominated against quarterback Philip Rivers and company. When Berry’s on the field, the defense for the Chiefs is better.

Berry is a special type of player. He brings passion to the football field. He has always been an effective leader and mentor to players around him, even if it’s a little temperamental (which I personally love).

As the caption states, Berry furiously shouts at cornerback Orlando Scandrick to get lined up correctly. Scandrick is a veteran player and should know what he’s doing—keyword here being should. This is just one example of Berry’s immediate impact upon returning to the Chiefs defense.

Berry is one of the most loved players the Chiefs have, but going well over a year without playing in a single game, 29 straight games, did that tarnish his legacy?

Even in a brief showing on Thursday against the Chargers, it was clear how much of a difference Berry makes on the field. He’s an all-time great player who, despite an insane level of adversity through illness and injuries, continues to come back fighting strong. Berry is a player who literally leaves it all out on the field, time and again. His passion, grit, love for the game, leadership, and skill all define what a great player he is.

The Chiefs won’t go far in the postseason without Berry, that I can guarantee. Berry’s legacy has already made him a franchise icon and hero for so many. Imagine the difference when Berry returns to play a full game in the postseason. If he returns and shows what he can do, there’s no doubt in my mind that in the coming years, Berry’s name will sit next to legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez on the Chiefs’ ring of honor in Arrowhead.

What makes a player legendary? To me, a “legend” means a player who is more than just a player. He’s a leader, a community hero, a household name. Berry is that type of player. Berry is one of the most celebrated safeties of his generation. He’s certainly the best safety the Chiefs have ever had on the field in years.

If anything, the absence has increased Berry’s legacy, showing fans what’s truly missing when he’s not on the field.