With their fifth-round selection in this spring's NFL draft, the Patriots took a risk by selecting TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon.
The 6-foot-5, 350-pound lineman's play wasn't the cause for concern. It was his health. After a physical at the NFL Combine showed irregularities in his system, Cannon learned on April 20 that he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
Two months after the setback, Cannon will finish chemotherapy this week and is expected to be ready to go whenever the NFL lockout is resolved.
"The first thing my mom and my dad told me to do is pray, and here we are today," Cannon told the Star Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas. "I'm a fifth-round Patriots draft pick, and half the mass I had is gone. For everyone who doesn't believe, here's your reason to believe. It's a miracle in itself that somebody with a life-threatening disease gets drafted."
A powerful anchor on the TCU line, Cannon set numerous school weightlifting records including power clean (500 pounds), squat (870), bench press (575) and incline press (565). Provided he keeps his weight near 350 pounds, he will be the second-heaviest player in New England history, lighter than only Ted Washington.
But with rumors of his health circulating through the league prior to the draft, Cannon fell from the second round to the fifth round.
"I just feel bad that it all happened to him," said Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson in the Telegram. "I think we're going to beat it, because we caught it early enough, and because of the attitude that he's approached it with, but he could have gone higher in the draft and made more money."
Despite all the experience, Cannon said faith has and will continue to get him through.
"All I can do is keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "That's to keep praying and accept my healing."