The one New Orleans Saints player who knows what it's like to play with tight end Foster Moreau in the NFL sees it as "miraculous" that the New Orleans native is playing in the NFL this season.
But months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, Moreau, who played at Jesuit High and at LSU, was on the field at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Tuesday, participating in the first of the team's 10 organized team activities.
"It was amazing," quarterback Derek Carr said of having Moreau on the field. The two were teammates with the Raiders from 2019-22. "There was no learning curve on how to throw him a football. I know how he gets out of breaks and things like that.
"But I don't want to undersell what that man just walked through. It's pretty scary news and a pretty scary thing to go through and for him to be out there already, I'm not going to get into his business but it's pretty miraculous. I know he's thankful.
"We were praying for him, he called us pretty early when he found out and he asked my wife and I to pray for him. Obviously, we do, because we're family. I'm just happy that he's out there and doing something that he loves to do. The fact that we get to play together is pretty cool, too."
"It's certainly close to that," Moreau said of the "miraculous" description. "I'd say being here, at this stage, is probably more miraculous. But being home, reunited with Derek, that's probably not nearly as miraculous."
Other than fatigue, Moreau said he was no worse for the wear after Tuesday's practice. He ran routes and blocked during team drills, worked with several special team units and tried to keep up with the verbiage and tempo.
It may have seemed a lifetime away from March, when Moreau, an unrestricted free agent, was diagnosed by the Saints' team doctor during a physical.
"I'm just sitting there with Dr. John Amoss, and he just starts to describe to me the different symptoms that I'm showing," Moreau said. "Obviously, that primary symptom of having an enlarged lymph node in my left clavicle…I went home, cried. It was a really tough moment.
"It was so much stress that it kind of built up through the entire free agency process, and then all that melted away into a completely different mountain that now had to be climbed. But we got over it and watched the film and decided to get better."
Moreau said Tuesday that his treatment is complete.
"Treatment for me ended the day before I signed two weeks ago," he said. "I had a rare cell type of Hodgkin's Lymphoma called NLPHL – nodular lymphathic predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma. It's about three percent of all diagnoses.
"Basically, it was slow-moving, not nearly as aggressive. I had to do a drip infusion for about six to eight hours, one day, probably a month-and-a-half ago. And then from there, all the rest of my medication was fed in shots through my stomach. But treatment-wise, it looks like I'm all wrapped up and I'll do a PET scan probably three-and-a-half, two-and-a-half weeks from now just to see how much the cancer is destabilized."
He said his quality of life was unaffected.
"My quality of life did not change. I'll continue to fight this as long as I need to and as many times as I need to fight this and then go back into remission I will, and that'll be a life sentence for me. But in terms of the struggle that I had to face, was more mental than anything. The real heroes are the kids in the children's hospitals that are really fighting with real chemotherapy, real radiation. Those are the strong ones."
New Orleans' interest in signing the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder never waned throughout the process.
"The day after the diagnosis, the day after the physical, my agent got a call from (Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager) Mickey Loomis and he said, 'We're still interested in him. We still value him as a player and even more as a person,' " Moreau said.
"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."
What the Saints landed, Carr said, is a player and teammate who is consistent.
"He's the same guy every single day," Carr said. "That's all we can ask from people, is that we be consistent. It's hard to do, but he's very consistent. It's almost scary how consistent he is.
"But he tries to be that guy for the team, and you see why he wore a special jersey number (18) at LSU. You see why his teammates loved him there. You see why his teammates love him even from high school.
"It's been a crazy journey for him, seeing everything he went through, but for him to be back home, I can imagine what that would feel like to play in front of all of your friends and all your family and all your teachers and all that kind of stuff. It will be special for him. He's a guy that you just want to have on your football team, and the fact that we got him is a blessing for us."
New Orleans Saints players participated in the team's 2023 OTA practices on May 23, 2023 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.