October 16, 2010.
I had the misfortune of being at the game where Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand
lost the ability to not only play the sport he loved, but to walk as well.
The road for LeGrand has been a long and arduous one. There have been countless surgeries and more meetings with specialist than any college athlete should ever have to go through. And that doesn’t even begin to note all the detractors who said LeGrand would be confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.
Through it all, Eric LeGrand has approached his unfortunate situation with a smile and positive
outlook that go well beyond his years. Not once did he bemoan his situation. He did not feel sorry for himself. He told us all he would walk again, and he has made several strides over the last year, even gaining the strength and ability to stand up with the assistance of a metal frame.
LeGrand has served as an inspiration to the Rutgers football team during the last year, even
serving as a special team captain for a game this past October.
As you all know, the NFL draft came and went, and 253 lucky men had their name called at the
podium. This was to be LeGrand’s senior draft class, and there were several pundits who felt that, had he not been injured, he too would have had his name announced at Radio City.
Enter Greg Schiano.
Say what you will about the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he has been nothing short of a second father to LeGrand since the injury.
Schiano and the Buccaneers made a move today that would bring a smile to anyone’s face, announcing the signing of defensive tackle Eric LeGrand from Rutgers University.
"The way Eric lives his life epitomizes what we are looking for in Buccaneer Men," Schiano said earlier today in a press conference held today to announce the move.
Schiano is trying to instill a new philosophy in the Tampa Bay organization, and what better way to characterize the idea “Buccaneer Man” than by signing the player who has overcome every step of adversity along the way?
LeGrand is everything and anything a professional athlete should model themselves after. He is humble and certainly does not take anything for granted.
This humility will be a breath of fresh air to Tampa in the coming season.
On October 17, 2010, LeGrand was in a hospital bed, unsure of where life would take him. Today, he is the newest member of the Buccaneer family, and he is slated to graduate from Rutgers this coming fall.
Don’t be surprised to see him walking around the halls of One Buc Place in a few years either.