James Conner’s story is well known. Top recruit coming out of High School, attends University of Pittsburgh, suffers knee injury to start his Junior year only to find out the knee injury is the least of his concerns after being told he had cancer.
As I said, this story has been told numerous times, but what hasn’t been discussed was the severity of the cancer, or the conversations had between Conner and his team of doctors as they began to get a plan in place to help Conner healthy, not necessarily concerning themselves with football.
“As a running back, I’m like, ‘This is the worst thing in the world,’” Conner told former Duke University pitcher Mike Seander (Mike Stud) for an hour-long chat. “A running back [with an MCL] injury? It ain’t cool.”
The attention left his knee quickly when it became known there were more dire circumstances in play.
”I’m rehabbing for that, trying to make a comeback before the season ends,” Conner said. “And then I’m rehabbing and [stuff and I get] night sweats, bro. I’m getting like 15 minutes of sleep at night, going through it. Sleep, who [doesn’t] love sleep? That’s the worst [stuff] in the world ... And so I get some tests done, and I got tumors surrounding my heart ... I got tumors growing all around it, and it’s pressing.”
How severe was the situation? Conner says doctors gave him a grim prognosis on the spot.
”The doctor told me I had a week left,” Conner told Stud. “He said, ‘You got about a week. If you [don’t] get this treated, you [have] about a week at the rate it’s growing.’”
After that, Conner’s entire perspective on football, college and life changed. He went from a potential first round draft pick in the NFL, to wondering if he will even live to see the end of his college career.
We all know how that chapter of his story ended, being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the end of his story has yet to be written. Judging on how he has handled adversity to this point, there is no doubt whether he will use his experience to help catapult his NFL career entering his third season with the black-and-gold.