KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Eric Berry has made the drive into Arrowhead Stadium on game day dozens of times over the years. On Friday night, he rolled down the windows and went a little bit slower.
He wanted to smell the barbecue wafting off the grills in the parking lot. He wanted to see the kids throwing footballs between the cars. And more than anything, he wanted to hear all those Kansas City Chiefs fans shout words of encouragement when they saw him roll past.
''All those emotions and things that come with the game, you get it riding through the parking lot,'' he said. ''You have to be a Kansas City Chief to understand.''
Few people expected Berry to make that drive Friday night, at least not in December, when the Pro Bowl safety was diagnosed with lymphoma and stepped away from the game.
But after grueling rounds of chemotherapy, Berry was deemed cancer-free in June. He was back in training camp by the time rookies arrived in July, and made his return to the field last week in Arizona, a remarkable recovery that left even his doctors in Atlanta amazed.
When he stepped onto the turf in Arrowhead Stadium for Friday night's game against Seattle, he was greeted by a roar from a crowd that has always adored him.
''They give you so many words of encouragement,'' Berry said. ''It does so much for me.''
The simple fact that Berry is healthy makes his story a success. That he is back playing the game he loves eight months after diagnosis makes it downright astonishing.
But he's not just playing, either. Berry is flourishing. He began working with rookies and long shots in training camp, but has slowly moved up the pecking order, spending most of his time lately with the No. 2 defense. But against the Seahawks, he was on the field several snaps with the starters, especially when they used an extra defensive back in nickel packages.
''I think the coaches are doing a great job of easing me back in and just being alert for in-game situations,'' he said. ''It's actually good to get out there during a game, and see everything live, and see everything fast, because there is a difference between practice and a game.
''I'm glad I get to see that when I come out here on the field.''
It is Berry that the rest of the guys in the locker room are glad to see on the field.
''Tonight was special for him,'' said Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who was also back at Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1 last year.
''It was special for the whole team,'' Johnson added, ''to see his courage and determination and everything he went through. He stands tall. I always say that. Eric Berry stands tall.''
Berry had several members on hand for Friday night's game, and they witnessed an outpouring of support. Along with all those well-wishers in the parking lot, fans held up signs inside the stadium to offer their encouragement, and a video played on the big screens that said, ''Welcome Back!'' - with the ''E'' and the ''B'' highlighted.
The Chiefs signed Ron Parker to pair with Husain Abdullah, just in case Berry would not be back this season. Now, that depth gives them the luxury of taking their time with his return.
''He's really back close to where he was,'' Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. ''I think every day out there talking with him, he's becoming more comfortable. Like I said earlier, we are going to follow his rhythm - whatever he feels - that's what we are going to follow. So far it has been really good.''