NEW YORK (AP) _ The doctor for a former professional football player who died of cancer misdiagnosed his patient's pain as football injuries and must pay the man's widow $15.7 million, a jury decided.

Erma Lockhart, the widow of Carl ''Spider'' Lockhart, said she felt all along that ''God would bring the right victory back to us.''

The jury said Friday that Dr. William R. Grace III committed malpractice when he failed to diagnose Lockhart's cancer when he first complained in 1979.

Lockhart, a New York Giants free safety from 1965 to 1968, died of T-cell lymphoma in July 1986 at age 43.

Mrs. Lockhart sued Grace, another doctor and St. Vincent's Hospital, where her husband was treated, arguing that they dismissed Lockhart as ''cancer phobic'' and blamed his pain and swollen lymph nodes on football injuries. His cancer was diagnosed in 1981.

Grace is expected to appeal.

The jury absolved the other doctor of liability and ruled that the hospital had ''vicarious'' responsibility, meaning Mrs. Lockhart can try to get money from the hospital if she can't get it from Grace.