Manuel's mother to attend his first start

Sunday’s season opener will naturally be special for Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. It’s his first NFL regular-season game.

The presence of mother, Jackie, in the stands will make it that much sweeter.

“My mom had breast cancer so she wasn’t able to make a lot of [games] last year,” Manuel told New England reporters on a Wednesday conference call.

“It’s really special, to have her there. Any time you have someone in your family dealing with cancer, any type of cancer, it’s hard to deal with, especially when it’s your last year in college and you have a lot of pressure on you. The fact she’s doing well now, and she’ll be out there in the stands watching me play against the New England Patriots, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

In December, ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich had detailed how Manuel drew inspiration from watching his mother battle cancer.

On Wednesday, Manuel said: “She’s doing a lot better. She’s [been] in remission for about two months now and she’s back to a normal lifestyle, moving around, going to work and things like that. I’m really happy for her.

“Beyond football, my parents are my heroes in my life. I think a lot of where I’ve gotten to in my life is because of them and the sacrifices they’ve made for me. I’m just really happy that I’m able to do things for them now.”