During the initial days of Jeremy Maclin’s absence from the Eagles training camp, the cloud of mystery surrounding his undisclosed ailment grew, but the speculative chatter was generally focused on how his vacant locker could effect the outcome of a football game.

As the days mounted, football began to matter less, and we just wanted to know something–anything–about the well-being of a blossoming young athlete. Concerns moved from the assumption of a physical ailment to the possible presence of a far more serious illness. Maclin was sick, we thought, not hurt.

We were right, and thankfully it was a false alarm.

Maclin finally ended his silence today during an exclusive interview with Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. Maclin told Glazer that he had a cancer scare and was tested for lymphoma, but those tests returned false results. He spoke publicly for the first time about his illness only an hour after receiving those results, and said he’s healthy and eager to return to the field.

“That’s first and foremost, I want everyone to know I’m fine, I’m healthy. I was tested for everything and every single test came back negative. I don’t have mono, I don’t have AIDS, leukemia, all the things people were guessing on, there was nothing. I was being tested for lymphoma and thank GOD everything has come back negative.”

Maclin’s silence was due to a simple and obvious lack of information during what was clearly a difficult time. Glazer described the process that led to Maclin’s illness and tests, which was started by a puzzling series of symptoms that emerged April when he lost 15 pounds. A scan revealed that Maclin had lymph nodes that were “enlarged and hot,” an indication of possible lymphoma.

His difficult offseason became downright scary when, on May 11th, ironically his birthday, a scan showed his lymph nodes were “enlarged and hot” — a possible sign of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic cells of the immune system.

Maclin was thrust through a series of painful tests, including large, painful needles inserted through his back to his chest to gather biopsy samples. A normal offseason regiment of sprints, lifting and route running were suddenly replaced with a grueling schedule of bone marrow tests, radiology scans and tests upon test upon test to rule out cancer, as well as any other potentially life-threatening ailment.

The most painful test came last week when lymph nodes were removed through Maclin’s belly button. The mysterious illness was finally diagnosed as an inflammatory virus, and Maclin said the virus is “something that just runs its course through your body.”

Suddenly our debates about Philly’s budding Dream Team and the impact of Maclin’s absence seem frivolous, and so does football. All that matters is that a 23-year-old man escaped a brush with cancer.