ATLANTA — Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry said last week that his concern for Sunday’s game against the Falcons was his ability to hold things together emotionally for his first NFL game in his hometown.
Berry acknowledged he “shed a few tears before the game, I shed a few during the game and I shed a few after,” but he held his emotions together long enough to make two of the biggest plays in Sunday’s 29-28 Chiefs victory.
He returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown and in the fourth quarter intercepted a pass on an Atlanta 2-point play and returned it to the end zone to convert a 28-27 deficit into a 29-28 lead. It was the first interception for a defensive conversion on a 2-point try since the rule was enacted in 2015, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The previous three defensive conversions came on blocked extra point attempts.
“I think I held it together pretty good,” Berry said. “There were a lot of emotions so I just tried to contain them and let it show through my play.”
Berry was diagnosed almost two years ago to the day with lymphoma. He returned to Atlanta then for his treatments sessions at Emory University.
“The last time I came home during the season, it was to get chemotherapy and then this time it was actually to play the game,” Berry said of the reasons for his emotions on Sunday. “I was just thankful for the opportunity. I take pride in a lot of things people take for granted so when opportunities come my way I cherish them and try to make the most of them.”
Berry presented the ball after his touchdown to his mother Carol, who was sitting behind the Chiefs’ bench. He indicated he made up his mind to present his mom the ball before the game.
“I just handed it to her and told her I’d be back,” Berry said.
Then, getting serious, Berry said, “I can try to give her whatever. It won’t amount to the things she’s given me, and my dad as well.
“So many nights I was crying on their shoulder trying to make sense of everything that was going on and they just kept telling me, ‘Keep pressing and keep pressing and you’ll be back, you’ll be able to play the game the way you want to play the game.’
“Both of them supported me throughout the whole process. I can’t thank them enough.”