Berry with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010
|No. 29 – Kansas City Chiefs|
|Date of birth:||December 29, 1988|
|Place of birth:||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Height:||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight:||212 lb (96 kg)|
|High school:||Fairburn (GA) Creekside|
|NFL Draft:||2010 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5|
|Roster status:||Injured reserve|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 1, 2017|
James Eric Berry (born December 29, 1988) is an American football safety for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Chiefs fifth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. He played college football at Tennessee, where he was a two-time unanimous All-American and recognized as the best collegiate defensive back in the country. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma on December 8, 2014. After going through chemotherapy in the offseason and being declared cancer free, Berry came back for the 2015 season and was named to the Pro Bowl, the AP All-Pro team, and was named the 2015 AP Comeback Player of the Year.
Berry played cornerback and quarterback, earning a 37-5 record as a starter at Creekside. He was teammates with Rokevious Watkins and Terrance Parks. Following his stellar high school career, Berry was invited to play in the 2007 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Berry was considered the top player in Georgia and the top cornerback prospect by every recruiting service, and Rivals.com ranked him the #3 player in the nation. He was once clocked at 4.38-4.41 range at the 40-yard dash at a soft indoor surface at a high school Combine.
Berry was the anchor leg of the 2006 Class 4A state championship 4 × 400 meters relay team. Individually, he was the 2005 Class 4A state champion in the 200 meters and 2007 Class 4A state champion in the Long Jump, beating future NFL players Brandon Boykin, 2nd and Stephen Hill, 3rd.
Berry received many scholarship offers, but chose to attend the University of Tennessee, where he played from 2007-2009.
As a freshman, Berry replaced fifth year senior Jarod Parrish after a strong showing in his first collegiate game against California. Berry turned in several big plays during his freshman season en route to being named the SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year by the Sporting News. His 222 return yards (on five interceptions) broke the 37-year-old Tennessee record by 43 yards. Berry led all SEC freshmen in tackles with 86. He twice was named SEC Freshman of the Week for his play over the regular season's final three games. After the season, he was also named 1st team Freshman All-American by Rivals.
Prior to the season, despite being a sophomore, Berry was named a team captain.
For the year, Berry tied for the national lead in interceptions with 7 and returned them for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns, breaking the record he set the year earlier. Combined with the yards he accumulated as a freshman, Berry set the all-time career SEC record for interception return yards with 487 yards, only 14 yards shy of the NCAA record for interception return yards, set by Terrell Buckley during his time at Florida State. He also finished the regular season with 72 tackles, 6 pass break-ups and 3 sacks.
Berry also took snaps on offense at quarterback and wide receiver, gaining 44 rushing yards on 7 carries. In addition, he gained 32 yards on 2 kick-off returns.
His early success had some journalists speculating that he could end up being the best defensive player in Tennessee history. He was nominated as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, the Lott Trophy, and the Chuck Bednarik Award.
Berry was named the SEC Defensive Player of the year and was a first-team All-SEC pick. He was also a unanimous first-team All American. The Touchdown Club of Columbus also named him their winner of the 2008 Jack Tatum Award as well.
Following his junior season in 2009, Berry was a first-team All-SEC selection, and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American for the second consecutive season. He won the Jim Thorpe Award and also was the recipient of The Touchdown Club of Columbus's Jack Tatum Award for the second straight year.
He forwent his last year of eligibility at the University of Tennessee and entered the 2010 NFL Draft.
Following Tennessee's 37–14 loss to Virginia Tech in the 2009 Chick-fil-A Bowl, Berry announced his decision to forgo his final year of college football eligibility, entering the 2010 NFL Draft. At the NFL combine, Berry officially ran a 4.47 40-yard dash time.
Berry was regarded as the highest scouted safety since Sean Taylor, whom Berry idolized prior to Taylor's death, and was expected to be selected no lower than No. 7, the Cleveland Browns pick.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Berry with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, making him the highest drafted defensive back since Taylor, and the highest drafted Tennessee Volunteer since Jamal Lewis. Berry selected number 29 as his jersey number in honor of former Tennessee defensive back standout Inky Johnson, whose career was cut short due to an injury and also as a tribute to his hometown Fairburn, Georgia, and the main road U.S. Route 29.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40‑yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20‑ss||3‑cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP|
|5 ft 11 5⁄8 in
|33 1⁄4 in
|9 5⁄8 in
|4.47 s||1.54 s||2.51 s||4.23 s||6.80 s||43 in
|10 ft 10 in
|All values from NFL Combine|
He and the Chiefs agreed to a six-year, $60 million contract on July 30, 2010 making Berry the highest-paid safety in NFL history.
In his first season, Berry started all 16 games and became the first Chiefs rookie to be selected to the Pro Bowl since linebacker great Derrick Thomas. Berry had a big impact on the team's defense, helping to improve it from 29th best unit in the 2009 season in terms of points allowed to 11th in the 2010 season, In addition to starting every game, Berry was on the field for almost half of Kansas City's special teams plays and was the only Chiefs defender to play every defensive snap.
He led the team in interceptions (4), and was second only to Derrick Johnson in tackles (92) and solo tackles(77). On December 26, 2010, Berry scored his first NFL touchdown on a 54-yard interception return against the Tennessee Titans. In his first playoff game, he recorded a career-high in solo tackles with 9 and passes defended with 4.
After playing in just 1 game in 2011, Berry came back to the Chiefs and played all 16 games. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after the season.
In 2013, Berry played in 15 games, recording a career high 3.5 sacks while also recording two fumble recoveries.
During a loss against the Oakland Raiders on November 20, 2014, Berry began to complain of chest pain. A mass was soon discovered in his chest, with him eventually being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma on December 8, 2014. Berry was placed on the Chiefs' non-football illness list, ending his season. Berry's doctor, Dr. Christopher Flowers, a lymphoma specialist at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, said of Berry's diagnosis, "This is a diagnosis that is very treatable and potentially curable with standard chemotherapy approaches. The goal of Mr. Berry's treatment is to cure his lymphoma and we are beginning that treatment now."
On July 28, 2015, the Chiefs announced through their official Twitter account that Berry had been cleared to resume football activities after he was declared clear of cancer nearly nine months after his initial diagnosis. Berry returned to the field gradually, but earned back his starting job and had a phenomenal 2015 season. He was selected to another Pro Bowl as the starting safety and many experts and coaches around the league remarked that he was the best safety in the entire NFL. He was named Comeback Player of the Year. He was ranked 55th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016., as he helped the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and Wild Card berth, after overcoming Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Berry on July 14, 2016. Due to both parties not agreeing on a long-term contract, Berry held out of all offseason training activities and eventually signed his $10.8 million franchise tender on August 28. In Week 13 against the Atlanta Falcons, Berry became the first player to return an interception for a defensive two-point conversion since the rule was enacted in 2015, as he intercepted a pass from quarterback Matt Ryan during the Atlanta Falcons' two-point conversion attempt. The return provided the winning score for the Chiefs, who won 29–28. He also returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown earlier in the game, earning him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He was named to his fifth Pro Bowl and third First-team All-Pro.
On February 28, 2017, Berry signed six-year, $78 million deal with Chiefs including $40 million in guaranteed, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. During Thursday Night Football against the Patriots in Week 1, Berry was carted off the field with an apparent Achilles injury. The following day, the Chiefs announced he had ruptured his Achilles and that he would miss the rest of the season. He was placed on injured reserve on September 9, officially ending his season.
Berry's father, James, played running back for the University of Tennessee from 1978 to 1981, and was a captain of the 1981 squad. Berry's younger brothers, twins Elliott and Evan, currently play football at Tennessee. Berry is the first cousin once removed of former All-Pro Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Hugh Green.
He was a better prospect than Sean Taylor.
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