Eric Berry, the safety from Atlanta by way of Tennessee, was just about to emerge as an NFL superstar with the Kansas City Chiefs.
He was right there. Then a torn ACL ended he season after just three plays in the first game of last season.
Berry was disconsolate.
“There are a lot of guys who play this game, and there’s another group of guys who play it with love and passion,” Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli said to cbssports.com. “And (Berry) breathes it and sleeps it. It was tough to see him go through it because he had never been through an injury before, and it was emotionally draining not only to him but it was tough to watch him go through it.
“He felt like he let people down. Eric wasn’t just feeling sorry for Eric, he felt like he had let a lot of people down and had let his teammates down and coaches down, everybody.”
It took the presence and wisdom of Berry’s father to not only hold him together, but to elevate Berry.
“My Dad was with me the whole time through surgery,” Berry said, “and while I was on my crutches, and I couldn’t walk, he was down there helping me in Pensacola [Fla.]. That was truly a blessing to have him down there because we got to talk about a lot of stuff. He supported me so much and my brothers and Mom my teammates and coaches. But it was really good to have my Dad there to take some of that off of me.”
Berry spent two months in Pensacola, then went home to Atlanta for a while before beginning another stretch of rehab in Boca Raton, Fla., then returned to Kansas City. His father kept preaching how things could have been worse, and pointed out some of the struggles their family members endured in the past.
The constant reinforcement worked. Berry began writing, an interest since he was seven or eight, he said.
“That’s something I just love to do — write and get my ideas down.”
Berry said in between the vigorous rehab that he wrote a screenplay with Justine Brown, an aspiring journalist and one his close friends from college.
Now, his head clear and his knee stronger, Berry is looking to get back to what he really loves. Football.
As one of the team’s top commodities, the Chiefs are in no rush to hurry Berry back onto the field. He is being evaluated daily on pain, mobility, soreness, swelling. When he and the team reach a comfort level, that’s when Berry will be ready for real action.