Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry missed the end of the 2014 season after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in December, but he managed to beat the cancer in time to return for a Pro Bowl season in 2015. The perseverance of the sixth-year defensive back made him an easy choice for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, which he was awarded on Saturday night.
Berry, 27, is the third Chiefs player to win the award, but the first since Marcus Allen in 1993. He's also the first defensive player to be named Comeback Player of the Year since Greg Ellis in 2007, snapping a seven-year streak of offensive players earning the award.
In his return to action, Berry played in all 16 games for the Chiefs and earned First-Team All-Pro honors for the second time in his career. He finished the season with two interceptions and 61 tackles, but SB Nation's Danny Kelly explained that his impact for the Chiefs defense goes beyond the box score:
He's constantly moving around -- playing in the deep middle, up in the slot against a receiver or tight end, up in the box against the run, and a little bit of everything in between. Honey Badger gets a lot of love for his versatility and that's well deserved, but Berry does a good amount of moving around too, and I saw him play zone, play man coverage, support the run and do some blitzing to boot. He's an integral and dangerous piece of the Chiefs' elite defense, and he's a fun player to watch.
With Berry leading the way on the back end, the Chiefs finished the season No. 3 in points allowed and forced the fifth-most turnovers in the NFL.
Among the other top players who were considered candidates to win Comeback Player of the Year were Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who bounced back from a torn ACL to post a 104.6 passer rating, and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who led the NFL in rushing after sitting out for almost the entire 2014 season.
Berry is scheduled to become a free agent in March, but the Chiefs are reportedly "ramping up" efforts to sign the four-time Pro Bowler to a new contract.