The NFL league office announced its 2010s All-Decade Team on Monday. VFLs Eric Berry and Cordarrelle Patterson were both selected to the prestigious list by a 48-member committee from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Berry was one of three safeties chosen, and his story is an inspiring one.
The Georgia native played at an elite level in all three seasons of his collegiate career, winning the 2009 Jim Thorpe award for best defensive back and 2008 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Berry was named first-team All-SEC and a unanimous All-American in both the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
His college play was impressive enough for the Kansas City Chiefs to take him with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Just as he did in college, Berry wasted no time getting to work. He went to three Pro Bowls in his first four seasons, garnering the honor of All-Pro in 2013.
It was in December of 2014 that adversity struck. Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After going through a hard off-season of chemotherapy, he was declared cancer-free and found his way back on the field in 2015. His hard work and courage would pay off as it earned him the 2015 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
Berry went to two more Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro in both 2015 and 2016. He ended the decade with 440 tackles, 14 interceptions and 50 pass deflections.
Patterson was one of only two return specialists named to the All-Decade Team alongside Devin Hester. Although he only spent one season on Rocky Top, his combination of speed and size will forever be etched in the minds of the Volunteer faithful.
After breaking Tennessee’s single-season record with 1,858 all-purpose yards, Patterson was named first-team All-SEC in 2012. The Minnesota Vikings selected him with the 29th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Although his return skills were elite, Patterson ended up a journeyman in the NFL, playing for four different teams over the course of the decade. His jersey may have switched multiple times, but his production never wavered as he was selected to the Pro-Bowl in 2013, 2016 and 2019 and was named first-team All-Pro in those same three seasons.
Patterson finished the decade with 24 touchdowns, 1,955 receiving yards and 6,110 return yards. His presence as an elite returner was solidified in his rookie season when he set the NFL record for longest kick return at 109 yards. He was also a member of the 2018 Patriots team that won Super Bowl LIII.