<font size="4"><font size="3">BUCS SIGN FORMER RUTGERS' DT ERIC LEGRAND IN STORY THAT STILL INSPIRES</font>
"</font>The story of former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand is a story about
unenviable loss and heartwarming perseverance, and another chapter today was
added by his old coach.
The Buccaneers announced
Wednesday morning that they had signed LeGrand to a contract. Much like one of
those one-day contracts for players who want to retire with a certain team, this
contract is ceremonial. LeGrand won't play, but the gesture made by coach Greg
Schiano, who coached LeGrand in college, is uplifting as LeGrand continues
trying to put together his life.
LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down
in October 2010 when he suffered a neck injury while making a tackle against
Army. But since then, he's become an inspiration.
Doctors told him he
would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life and that he would have to
remain on a ventilator, but LeGrand began breathing on his own five weeks later.
Since then, he's begun to feel sensation throughout his body, and he's tweeted
pictures of himself standing upright as he tweeted out the following: “Standing
tall, we can't fall. Standing upright again.”
Schiano obviously has a
special place in his heart for LeGrand, who is planning to graduate next year
with a degree in labor studies.
"Leading up to the draft, I couldn't help
but think that this should've been Eric's draft class," said Schiano in a
statement. "This small gesture is the least we could do to recognize his
character, spirit, and perseverance. The way Eric lives his life epitomizes what
we are looking for in Buccaneer Men."
In a teleconference Wednesday
morning, LeGrand, who will not receive a salary from Tampa Bay, told reporters
that he's living in a New Jersey apartment with his mother while waiting for his
house -- which is being renovated to make it handicap accessible -- to be
For now, he's going to therapy a couple times a week and
arm-pedaling on a specially-made bike to continue his strength training. He's
also been practicing sitting up without assistance, and he's up to 15 minutes by
"That's a miracle," he said. "I'm not supposed to be doing any
of this kind of stuff."
I asked LeGrand what his long-term goals are. Is
walking a possibility?
“My goal is to walk," he said. "I know it's going
to happen. I believe this happened for a reason. My goal is to get back on my
feet. I'm going to keep on fighting. I don't know when it will happen, but down
the road, it will happen. If you believe in the man upstairs, anything is legit
As the video below shows, when LeGrand led Rutgers onto the
field last October, he continues to inspire, and today's news continue that
journey for him.
And good for Schiano and the Tampa Bay
organization. So much of the news in the offseason is made by those players who
were arrested or by teams who were caught running bounty programs. Sometimes,
it's just nice to write about good news. Even better that today it's LeGrand and
a story that continues to inspire.