Paralyzed College Football Player Eric LeGrand Signed by Good-Guy Tampa Bay Buccaneers | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Paralyzed College Football Player Eric LeGrand Signed by Good-Guy Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs did a cool thing this week.

We're not anywhere near Tampa, but the Dolphins have had one winning season in six years, and the Marlins went and stole a half-billion dollars from taxpayers to build a stadium, so here's a story that shows that at least one Florida sports team can make a nice gesture.

Rutgers University tackle Eric LeGrand was 20 years old when he was paralyzed from the neck down in a game against Army in October 2010. A year later, in a motorized wheelchair, he led the Scarlet Knights back onto the field for a game against West Virginia and created Sports Illustrated's "best moment of 2011."

Now, he's a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

The likely source of the move is Bucs Head Coach Greg Schiano, who spent a season as defensive coordinator at the University of Miami before going to Rutgers in 2000. He was head coach there through last season, where he coached Nate Jones, Ray Rice, and LeGrand, who recorded 60 tackles and 2.5 sacks through the beginning of his junior year.

Since the injury (and Schiano's eventual departure for Tampa), LeGrand has made significant strides in physical therapy, tweeting last year that he was slowly regaining feeling in his arms and was standing with assistance in therapy. He plans to graduate next fall and to eventually lie back down at the spot he was injured, stand up, and walk away.

He's stuck in a wheelchair for now, but Schiano signed him to the team's 90-man offseason roster Tuesday.

"Leading up to the draft, I couldn't help but think that this should've been Eric's draft class," Schiano said, in a release. "This small gesture is the least we could do to recognize his character, spirit, and perseverance."

The Bucs statement says Schiano "was there when LeGrand fell stiffly to the Giants Stadium turf and didn't get up, and he was there at his hospital bed that evening and he will remain there for every step forward LeGrand takes in his recovery and his life."

It also offers what the first line of the Bucs' scouting report of LeGrand would be: "Will never quit."

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Rich Abdill

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