The New England Patriots ended the 2014 campaign as the NFL's top team - beating out the Seattle Seahawks to claims the franchise's fifth title.
One of their roster has today though revealed how close he came to missing out on the season altogether.
Speaking openly for the first time on the shocking ordeal, the Super Bowl winner recounted the frightening situation he was left facing when doctors diagnosed him with testicular cancer at about this time last year.
Nate Solder (of AFC Championship game fame) hopes that his account of what happened will shed light on a subject that is still taboo to many.
"I knew nothing about it. It was a complete surprise," explained the offensive tackle on discovering a lump in April 2014. "You Google something like that and it kind of scared you, so I was like, 'I'm not going to freak out about this.'"
"Had I not had a routine physical, I probably wouldn't have checked it, saying, 'Oh, it's just in my head, I'm going to be fine."
Quick to act
At that stage Solder had missed just one game in the three years of his pro career with the Patriots. The remarkable fact is that, despite the cancer and surgery required, he completed another full season in 2014.
Fortunately for him the cancer had not spread beyond one testicle meaning doctors could remove the infected testicle, and Solder was able to make a full and rapid recovery to take his place in front of Tom Brady for what proved to be a monumental season in New England.
Brady, Solder says, was amongst those to send him text messages of support as he recovered in hospital last offseason.
"I was completely heathy, I'm a professional athlete. It can happen to anybody," he warned in the interview with ESPN.
"Make sure you get yourself checked out, especially young men, because that's who it's really targeted toward."
The former first-round draft pick was positive regarding his future, saying in the same report that all subsequent visits have gone according to plan. Hopefully that means he has plenty more games left in his NFL career.
Whether any of them will include a 15-yard touchdown run - as was the case in the AFC Championship game vs the Colts - may though be unlikely.
Patriots fans: Feel free to show your support for one of your incredible roster in the comments section below...
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