HOUSTON (AP) — Cancer survivor David Quessenberry knew all week that he’d make his NFL debut on Monday for the Houston Texans against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What he didn’t realize until before just before the game was that he’d not only play, but be one of his team’s captains.
“That surprised me,” he said. “That was really cool. I didn’t expect that. When (coach Bill O’Brien) told the team that, everyone was really excited for me, and I was, too.”
Quessenberry’s debut came on another tough day for the Texans as a 34-6 win by the Steelers gave them their fifth straight loss.
The guard was drafted by the Texans in the sixth round in 2013, but sustained a season-ending foot injury before appearing in a game. The following June he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and spent three years fighting the disease before being declared cancer free and returning to practice in May. He was cut before the season, but signed to the practice squad the next day, where he remained until his promotion this week.
“What else can you say about that guy? That guy was in tough shape not too long ago, and for him to come back and play in an NFL game is an incredible thing if you ask me,” O’Brien said. “So, I thought it was appropriate to make him a captain.”
Quessenberry struggled to put into words how special Monday was for him.
“I don’t know if I could. It was everything I dreamed of when I was going through my treatments,” he said. “Getting out there and playing a full-speed game today was exactly how I had hoped it to be.”
His teammates raved about how far he’s come since being diagnosed with the disease, and were thrilled to see him realize his dream of playing in an NFL game.
“What he went through to come out and still be able to come and be a part of this team every day like nothing happened to him, everybody feeds off his energy, honestly,” DeAndre Hopkins said. “I don’t know if he knows it, but everybody in this locker room looks up to him.”