Ten-year veteran offensive guard Joe Andruzzi, released by the Cleveland Browns in early May, has been diagnosed with a treatable form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, agent Joe Linta confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday night.
"He's upbeat, he's optimistic, and he's looking forward to his recovery and to the future," Linta said.
Andruzzi, 31, was diagnosed late last week after complaining of general irritability, swelling and a high fever. The popular lineman, Linta said, will immediately begin a 12-step round of chemotherapy treatments at the Dana Farber Institute in Boson. The facility is one to which Andruzzi and his family are longtime benefactors and for which he has raised a substantial amount of money during his career.
Said Linta in a statement later in the evening: "While this condition is very serious, both Joe and his doctors feel he will be quickly on his way to a full recovery ... He is being treated by some of the best specialists in the country, and Joe is confident he could not be in better hands. He would like to thank all his fans and friends for their outpouring of support."
According to the National Cancer Institute, about 54,000 Americans are annually diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The disease may develop in any organ associated with the lymphatic system.
Signed by Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent in 2005, and acquired not only for his football skills but also to add leadership to the locker room, Andruzzi started 27 games for the Browns over the past two seasons. His release, which was surprising, was part of the offseason remaking of the team's blocking unit.
The Browns issued a statement in support of Andruzzi and his family.
"The Cleveland Browns are aware of Joe's situation and will continue to support him and his family in their time of need," the club said. "While in Cleveland, Joe's leadership and strength were enormous both on the field and in the locker room. If anyone can fight through this, it is Joe."
Before joining the Browns, he had played five seasons in New England, and was familiar with Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel from the time they spent together with the Patriots.
In New England, Andruzzi was a part of three Super Bowl-champion teams.
A former Southern Connecticut State standout, Andruzzi entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Green Bay in 1997. In stints with the Packers (1997-99), Patriots (2000-2004) and Browns (2005-2006), Andruzzi has played in 122 contests, including 102 games as a starter.
Andruzzi has logged at least 11 starts in each of the past seven seasons. He had two years left on his contract, at base salaries of $1.5 million (2007) and $2.5 million (2008), when the Browns released him. Among the several teams that displayed an interest in Anduzzi after his release was the New York Jets.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.