Cancer is something that hits particularly close to home for James Conner, the third-year Pittsburgh Steelers running back. As a 20-year-old, Conner was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and played his senior season at Pitt after undergoing twelve rounds of chemo therapy.
Conner was declared to be in remission just prior to the NFL scouting combine in 2016 and his good health has allowed him to find a very promising and productive career as an NFL running back. But Conner continues to find time to help those still in their battle, and he did so prior to Sunday’s game against the Browns in Pittsburgh.
A little over a week ago, a Steelers fan tweeted at Conner to let him know that a friend who is battling a rare, untreatable sarcoma would be in attendance at this weekend’s game against Cleveland. That friend, Rusty, asked Conner if he would be willing to meet the cancer fighter, Rich, in order to give him some words of encouragement.
Conner responded saying “please let me meet him” and, on Sunday, that meeting came to be.
The Steelers running back greeted both Rich and Rusty on the field prior to kickoff and it looked to be a pretty emotional gathering as they shared words and an embrace.
Both Rich and Rusty wore custom Conner jerseys and the running back made sure to sign both before they parted ways. Conner signed Rich’s jersey “keep fighting…f— cancer!”
Conner didn’t actually play in the game as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury that has kept him out of the lineup for the past two weeks, but his presence on the inactive list didn’t prevent him from making a difference on Sunday — even if those contributions don’t show up on the box score.