Saints' Moreau gratefully returns to the football field after cancer scare

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints newly acquired tight end Foster Moreau refers to his recent cancer diagnosis as “a life sentence."

He will always have to monitor it, he said. But at the moment, he no longer requires treatment, and is returning to football “full steam ahead.”

“I'll continue to fight this as long as I need to," Moreau said after participating fully in a voluntary offseason practice on Tuesday. "As many times as I need to fight this and go back into remission, I will.”

Moreau also stressed that his struggle has so far been “more mental than anything. So, the real heroes are the kids in the children's hospitals that are really fighting with real chemo therapy, real radiation. Those are the strong ones.”

Moreau's signing with the Saints would have come with considerable fanfare even without the unusual and compelling circumstances surrounding his health. He grew up in New Orleans and played for LSU before the Las Vegas Raiders made him a fourth-round draft choice in 2019, when the club was based in Oakland.

Now entering his fifth season, he was considering the possibility of continuing his pro football career in his home town when Dr. John Amoss, the Saints' team physician, noticed an enlarged lymph node in Moreau's left clavicle in late March. Amoss' discovery led to a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma, and Moreau initially announced that he would pause his NFL career to focus on his health.

After further testing, Moreau said, doctors determined he had a rare — but very treatable — form of the disease, nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (or NLPHL).

His treatment consisted of between six and eight hours of a drip infusion for one day about six weeks ago, he said, followed by several weeks of medication that was either ingested or injected into his stomach area. That treatment ended the day before he signed a three-year, $12 million contract with New Orleans.

Before the diagnosis, Moreau said he considered playing for New Orleans as “an option.” The way the club supported him afterward strengthened his desire to become a Saint, he said.

"The day after the diagnosis, the day after the physical, my agent (Joe Linta) got a call from (Saints general manager) Mickey Loomis, and he said, ‘Hey, we’re still interested in him. We still value him as a player and even more as a person,’” Moreau recalled.

“That was so comforting for me, knowing that regardless of where I went through this process, there was a real good chance I wind up here," Moreau continued. "That was just going to be a really cool experience for me. And it is. I definitely don’t take it for granted.”

Signing with New Orleans also meant a chance to once again catch passes from his former Raiders teammate — and friend — Derek Carr, who'd joined the Saints earlier in free agency.

Carr said Moreau helped him choose the neighborhood where he bought a house and advised him where to eat in a city known for its restaurant scene.

“He gave me some better answers about food than Chipotle,” a grinning Carr said, poking fun at himself for having one of his first meals in New Orleans at a national chain.

Carr said his family prayed for Moreau and found it “miraculous” that the tight end is already running routes at voluntary workouts.

“It’s been a crazy journey for him ... seeing everything he’s went through,” Carr said. “So, it’ll be special for him.

“He’s a great teammate, great friend,” Carr continued. "He’s always been there for me for a lot of things. And he’s a guy that you just want to have on your football team. And the fact that we got him is is a blessing for us.”

Moreau said he's not sure his diagnosis has changed him "all that much, but mentally, I’m a lot more grateful waking up every day.”

And at this pivotal stage in his life and career, he also is grateful to be back in the festive, culturally rich community where he grew up, however imperfect and vulnerable to the forces of nature it may seem sometimes.

“I know these streets well. I love these people,” Moreau said. “Anyone who's from here can speak to it. There's something special about this city. There's a different life in these streets — other than the potholes.”

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