Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has certainly been hard at work evaluating players during Senior Bowl practices this week, but before he arrived in Mobile, Ala., he had a little business to attend to Monday.
That’s when Dorsey and team chairman Clark Hunt flew into Atlanta to visit safety Eric Berry, who is battling Hodgkin lymphoma.
“We spent two hours together over his parents’ house, hung out with the whole family — mom, dad, brothers,” Dorsey said. “He was laughing, he was in good spirits. That’s all you can ask for. And I think, whenever somebody is going through something like that, it’s appropriate that we, as an organization, make the effort to go see a player that’s very meaningful to us. That’s what it’s all about.”
Berry, 26, left the team after playing in the Chiefs’ 24-20 loss to Oakland on Nov. 20, after which he complained about discomfort in his chest. A weekend of testing discovered that Berry had a mass in the right side of his chest which was later determined to be lymphoma. He missed the Chiefs’ last five games of the season.
Lymphoma is a group of cancers of a part of the immune system called the lymph system. The cancers fall into two main types, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. According to cancer.org, the five-year survival rate for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma is 90 percent for those in stage one and two, 80 percent for stage three and 65 percent for stage four.
The team has not announced what stage Berry’s form of cancer is in, but Christopher R. Flowers, a physician and the director of the Winship Cancer Institute lymphoma program at Emory University in Atlanta — where Berry is being treated — has said it is very treatable.
Dorsey said the in-home visit to Berry was Hunt’s idea, which he came up with several weeks ago.
“Clark flew in from Dallas and I can’t say enough (about it) … when an owner comes to see one of your players, it speaks volumes about him, first and foremost,” Dorsey said. “That’s what leadership does.”
Most importantly, Dorsey wanted to reiterate that Berry was doing well.
“He looked great,” Dorsey said. “He was E.B. He was talking about ’ball. We were talking as friends.”
Berry is scheduled to have a cap number of $8.357 million in 2015, and is slated to receive $5.455 million in total salary. If Berry again winds up on the non-football injury list in 2015, the Chiefs would technically be under no obligation to pay him.
Common sense dictates it’s possible the two sides could reach a mutually-agreed upon lower salary to provide cap relief, but Dorsey offered no hints on the matter — “I don’t talk about the business of football (in the media),” he said — and reiterated that this was a friendly visit, one punctuated by Berry’s happiness to see them.
“I didn’t know what this meant, but he said ‘John, I’ve got big cheese on my face,’” Dorsey remembered. “I didn’t know what that meant, but it meant a big smile.”
Kansas cornerback JaCorey Shepherd missed practiced Wednesday with a hamstring injury. Miami (Fla) inside linebacker Denzel Perryman (abs), UNLV receiver Devante Davis (hamstring) and TCU offensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje (hip) also missed practice with injuries.
Central Florida inside linebacker Terrance Plummer and Mississippi State offensive lineman Blaine Clausell have been added to the game.