WR John Metchie back with Texans after cancer battle: 'This was all for a greater purpose'

With the onset of training camps every summer, hopeful anticipation begins to build around the NFL. Perhaps no one is more excited for the 2023-24 campaign than John Metchie III, a wide receiver in his second year with the Houston Texans.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

A second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Metchie was forced to miss the entirety of his rookie season after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia last July. But he was cleared for camp this year, and he spoke to the media for the first time on Thursday.

“This entire year has been eventful, for sure,” Metchie said. “It’s had its ups and downs, but being back on the field feels great. It’s been a long way coming, but it definitely feels like a blessing and something you’re grateful for every day.”

Metchie said he remembers well his time in the MD Anderson Cancer Center, looking out the window at the Texans’ practice facility and NRG Stadium, wishing he could be there and wondering if he’d ever play football again.

Still, he had to remain focused on his own survival — what needed to happen that day in his treatment — and encourage the patients around him to do the same. Metchie explained that extended stays in the hospital alter a person’s perception of time. There is no “end clock” as he described it, no destination too far down the road, no ability to sit back and reflect on the journey as a whole but rather tackle what each day brings.

Cancer wasn’t just a physical challenge for the now 23-year-old, but a mental and spiritual challenge as well. So how did he get through it?

“My faith,” Metchie said at the press conference. “My faith in God, and my mom and my (four) brothers.”

Even moments after being informed of the diagnosis, Metchie’s thoughts turned to his Father in Heaven.

“I knew at that moment that God had a plan for me, and I was going to be all right,” Metchie told AL.com last October as he recalled first hearing the life-changing news.

Metchie held onto hope in that plan throughout his ordeal, despite everything he had to overcome. It was a formative time, and one that only served to strengthen his faith in God and his appreciation for the people around him.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by NFL Players Association (@nflpa)

Now that Metchie has a clean bill of health and has been cleared for full participation in the upcoming football season, he says he feels “110%.” The things that used to worry him are no longer quite so big; the simple gifts in life just a little more precious.

“We kind of understand that we take for granted life and everything we have to do or everything we get to do during a day,” Metchie said in his press conference, “but then when it’s taken away from you — whether you’re young or old or in the hospital — you kind of realize that people see clearly what’s important to them and who’s important to them, right?

“Their family, their life, regardless of what they were complaining about or what stresses you have, you realize that the biggest gift you got is your breath and your heartbeat.”

He continued later, “I was blessed and very grateful to have one of the most curable forms of cancer. … But at the very beginning of it when you’re diagnosed, it’s a very tough part. It’s the most critical part. And I think all of that was just my faith.

“You can only rely on your faith in those situations. In situations when you’re forced to be faced with your own mortality, you see what it is you really believe in and Who it is you really believe in. So my faith in God is really what kept me comfortable in a belief that this was all for a greater purpose and a bigger reason.”

With a new lease on life and an ever-deepening gratitude for all God has brought him through, Metchie is now focused on learning his playbook under first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans, developing chemistry with 2023’s No. 2 overall pick, quarterback C.J. Stroud, and eagerly anticipating his long overdue NFL debut.

If all things go according to plan, that will come at 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 10 as the Texans travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in Week 1.

QB C.J. Stroud drafted 2nd overall by Houston Texans: ‘I have the armor of God’
DeMeco Ryans introduced as Texans head coach, says God ‘paved the way for me’
Bucs LB Shaquil Barrett leaning on the Lord after losing 2-year-old daughter Arrayah
Bills DB Damar Hamlin back practicing in pads, declares ‘faith is stronger than any fear’
MAGAZINE: Alabama QB Bryce Young Puts Faith Before Fame