The next chapter in the life of paralyzed college football player Eric LeGrand takes us to the NFL, where the the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and coach Greg Schiano, LeGrand’s former coach at Rutgers, announced today that they have signed him as a free agent.
It has not yet been revealed how LeGrand will be used by the team, as the signing is purely symbolic and involves no money.
“I had no idea, no idea this was going to happen,” LeGrand said. “Honestly, it’s amazing. It is. It really is.”
LeGrand said he only learned of the move via a phone call with Schiano on yesterday. His mother, Karen, had reportedly been told on Monday night.
LeGrand gets the last spot on the team’s NFL roster and will even get to keep his college number, No. 52.
Tampa Bay is going to send LeGrand a jersey, a helmet, and a contract later this week.
“Leading up to the draft, I couldn’t help but think that this should have been Eric’s draft class,” Schiano said in a statement released today by Rutgers and the Buccaneers. “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.”
Schiano and LeGrand have remained close friends since the Knights’ former defensive tackle fractured two vertebrae and sustained a severe spinal cord injury that left Eric LeGrand paralyzed during a game against Army on October 16, 2010.
READ MORE: SEE THE HIT THAT PARALYZED ERIC LEGRAND HERE
After initially being told he would probably spend the rest of his life as a quadriplegic on a ventilator, LeGrand was able to breathe on his own and was able to stand up with the help of a metal frame within five weeks of the injury. He has become a national inspiration.
He said today that he’s “up to 15 minutes sitting by myself, which is a miracle because I’m not supposed to be doing any of this kind of stuff.”
His spirit and determination landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2011 year-end issue, and his story was voted the magazine’s Moment of the Year.
Eric LeGrand also received the Most Courageous Athlete Award from the New Jersey Sports Writers Association and will be presented with the Unsung Hero Award at the New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 9 for his representation of “courage, strength and character.”
More in the video below.
- Eric LeGrand, paralyzed Rutgers player, signed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers (bucsnation.com)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sign Paralyzed Rutgers DT Eric LeGrand (rantsports.com)
- Eric LeGrand: Buccaneers Make Impressive Statement Signing Former Rutgers Star (bleacherreport.com)