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Houston Texans Rookie Wide Receiver Diagnosed with Leukemia

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Houston Texans' John Metchie III smiles during an NFL football rookie minicamp practice on May 13, 2022, in Houston. | Image by David J. Phillip/AP

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Houston Texans rookie wide receiver John Metchie III announced Sunday that he was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and will likely miss the 2022 football season.

The Texans selected Metchie, 22, in the second round of this year’s draft. He was placed on the non-football injury list after the announcement of his APL diagnosis, which he called the “most curable form of Leukemia.”

“I am currently receiving great medical care, am in good spirits and I expect to make a recovery at a later point in time,” Metchie said in a statement. “As a result of this diagnosis, I will likely not be playing football this season. My main focus will be on my health and recovery. Thank you in advance for your support and well-wishes. I cannot wait to come back stronger than ever. God bless.”

According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, APL is a type of acute myeloid leukemia where cells in the bone marrow that produce blood cells do not develop and function normally. Most treatments of APL are successful, as the disease has a cure rate of 90% at centers specializing in APL treatment.

Doctors say Metchie is in the correct city to be treated for his diagnosis, thanks to the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

“It’s no secret that this is the largest medical center in the world. And some of the fundamental work in the management and treatment in this leukemia has been done in the Texas Medical Center,” Dr. Adan Rios with UT Health Houston and Memorial Hermann said.

Metchie was born in Taiwan and lived in Ghana before moving with his family to Canada, where he lived until age 14. Metchie moved to the U.S. to attend St. James School in Hagerstown, Maryland, where he graduated before spending a post-graduate year at the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey.

He played college football at the University of Alabama, where he caught 155 passes for 2,081 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons. Last season, he caught 96 passes for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns before his season ended in the SEC Championship Game due to a torn ACL.

Metchie was named the recipient of the Jon Cornish Trophy as the top college football player from Canada for a second consecutive year after the 2021 season.

The player was hoping to recover from his ACL injury in time for training camp before his APL diagnosis.

Metchie’s college coach, Nick Saban, offered his support to the wide receiver in a statement Sunday:

The Texans traded the No.68, No.108, and No.124 draft picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up and draft Metchie at No.44 overall.

“If you spend some time to getting to know his story, his story is probably as unique as anybody in the draft,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said after drafting him. “He’s very worldly, this kid is an awesome kid, very smart, very studious, tough as nails.”

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