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Falcon's Beverly helps wife battle cancer

Discussion in 'Sports Forum' started by dianetavegia, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. dianetavegia

    dianetavegia Guest

    Athlete, wife switch support roles

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Published on: 04/27/05
    At his wedding, Atlanta Falcons player Eric Beverly figured the "sickness and health" vow would most likely apply to him and his football injuries. His bride, Danielle, promised to "always be his cheerleader," a crucial role for spouses of pro athletes.

    He did not foresee what love would require: Changing her bandages after both breasts were removed. Appreciating her scarred body. Seeking counseling amid the stress of her recovery and the pressure of the NFL.

    In a profession where injuries and trades routinely change lives, Eric had relied on Danielle. She built up his confidence as he switched from tight end to center to guard, then back to tight end, during eight NFL seasons. They planned a life, post-football, with at least two children.

    On Tuesday morning at Emory Hospital, Beverly kissed his wife several times before she underwent her second major breast cancer surgery.

    "I love you," he said. "You are going to be OK."

    An NFL marriage carries unique challenges regarding money, temptation and motives.

    "You almost hope a player found a girlfriend or wife before he became a pro athlete, so she loves him for who he is and not the status and the money," said Ohio-based agent Vern Sharbaugh.

    He didn't worry, though, when Eric Beverly, one of his clients, fell in love during his second year with the Detroit Lions. The relationship was like Beverly — solid and unpretentious.

    Danielle Tiernan was a grad student in sports administration and academic adviser to the Michigan football team.

    Eric and Danielle both grew up in blue-collar homes in the Midwest, with parents, they say, who still "freak out" going to a restaurant fancier than Red Lobster. The couple shared a Christian faith and teasing sense of humor. Both are problem-solvers, who feel secure by preparing for worst-case scenarios.

    "We're sweatsuit type people," Danielle said last weekend, while dressed that way in their apartment near the Mall of Georgia. "When we went for estate planning and life insurance, we both had our Franklin planners together. When we went to get a mortgage, they were amazed we had good credit because so many athletes blow theirs."

    Persevering couple

    The NFL came unexpectedly to Eric, a tight end turned tackle at Miami of Ohio. He had an operations management degree and two corporate job interviews. He surprised himself by making the Detroit Lions' practice squad as a free agent in 1997. He found a niche at center, then guard.

    Danielle thought she might not marry. At nearly 6 feet, she was a sports junkie who played basketball and ran track. She wanted a husband she could look up to, physically and figuratively.

    When a friend asked her to meet Eric Beverly, she checked out his height (6-feet-3) and weight (300 pounds) on the Lions' Web site. She liked his picture too.

    The first time they met, she beat him at video basketball. He asked for her phone number. She already had written it down.

    "We vibed, call it whatever you want," he said, laughing. "I'm still trying to figure it out."

    Every summer, Danielle ran on the track with Eric to help him get in shape for football. He worked his way up to a starting position. They married before the 2001 training camp.

    Danielle wore his replica jersey to every game and faced down fans critical of the losing Lions.

    "She was polite, but she is tenacious, like a bulldog," recalled Lanee Blaise, her best friend and wife of former Lions guard Kerlin Blaise. "Having played basketball, she knew what it was like being out there herself."

    Danielle set the standard for caregiving in their home after Eric injured his ankle. She carted him to doctors' appointments and urged him to not to be so hard on himself, to let her listen and help.

    "Everything happens for a reason," she said. "Keep persevering."

    'I don't know how she feels'

    Their traditional roles reversed in October 2003, when she found a nickel-sized lump in her left breast.

    Tension surfaced. She didn't want her cancer to distract him in the last season of his contract. He offered to put his career on hold to tend to her. She said no, wanting as much normalcy as possible.

    In December 2003, surgeons removed both of Danielle's breasts, a preventative measure that avoided radiation and other therapies. The couple could start a family sooner.

    Because her pectoral muscles were cut, the do-it-herself Danielle couldn't lift her arms, brush her teeth or go to the bathroom. Eric changed her bandages; she couldn't look.

    "I don't think her changes have caused me to view her beauty differently," he said. "She is more beautiful now than the first day I met her."

    Follow link for lots more of this story.

  2. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Jul 31, 2000
    Likes Received:
    This story shoulda gotten more attention from us, Diane. Anyone heard any follow-up?
  3. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303 Active Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Wow thanks Diane, what a powerful story. I will say a prayer for them.

    Are there any updates on how they are doing?
  4. dianetavegia

    dianetavegia Guest

    I've not seen anything, but wouldn't it be great to hear they were expecting? I wrote the reporter to see if she'd heard anything.

    People may make fun of us southeners, but one thing I can say.... we're not ashamed to publish stories like this, where God is praised and Bible verses are quoted.