Cancer Survivor James Conner Knew He’d Be Back Playing
In 2015, while playing football at the University of Pittsburgh, The Cardinals’ running back, James Conner, was diagnosed with cancer.
Conner's doctor informed him he had tumors around his heart and that he didn't have much time left.
"The doctor told me I had about a week left," Conner told Mike Seander on the Ya Neva Know: ya know what I mean? podcast.
As per Conner, the doctor said that he only had about a week, at the rate the tumor was growing, if the illness was left untreated.
Conner, who was recovering from a torn MCL at the time, claimed the cancer was diagnosed after he had trouble sleeping and decided to undergo more tests.
He was rehabbing in order to try and make a comeback before the season ended. After getting the tests done, the doctor told him that he had tumors surrounding his heart growing all around it.
Conner began chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin lymphoma, the type of cancer he was diagnosed with.
However, he admitted that notifying his family about the diagnosis was the most painful aspect of the process.
James Conner (right) Opening Up About His Battle With Cancer (Source: Mike's Youtube Channel)
"I remember that like it was yesterday. ... How would they feel if their youngest brother was not here no more? How would they feel if their youngest brother died? I said I can't do it. I can't go." said Conner on the podcast.
Conner was declared cancer-free in May 2016. He returned for his senior season and was picked in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Conner climbed to the starting role eventually after acting as Le'Veon Bell's backup during his rookie season.
He was amazing, rushing for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games while also catching 55 receptions for 497 yards and a touchdown.
James Conner Played during COVID despite Cancer History
Despite being a high-risk player during the pandemic, Conner never considered opting out of his rookie contract in the final year.
He says that it was never a concern for him since he was cancer-free for about four years.
He pushed through without worry, believing that his immune system was back to normal (as per ESPN.)
Only three teams have not had a player opt-out because of the COVID-19 epidemic. The Steelers are one of them.
Steelers running back coach, Eddie Faulkner, was unconcerned about playing without his top running back for the season because he knew how determined Conner was.
“To be honest with you, I kind of fully expected him to be a full participant. That's just how he's built," said Faulkner to the ESPN reporter.
James Conner Is a Day-To-Day Player
Conner now plays for the Arizona Cardinals and the coach considers him a day-to-day player.
Last week, the Cardinals held Conner out of practice to allow him to heal his heel injury.
Both the running back and the club were confident that he'd be able to play despite the injury.
However, Conner didn't recover in time to play against the Colts on Saturday, so Chase Edmonds was given the starting job in the backfield.
Edmonds finished with 127 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown on 24 attempts, a workload identical to Conner's when the latter was the undisputed running back during the former's four-game injury absence.
Conner might pave the way to a comeback by blending into practice this week.