Bucs sign paralyzed player, tell inspirational story

Bucs sign paralyzed player, tell inspirational story
May 2, 2012, 5:23 pm
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Despite clashing opinions about the draft or team differences throughout the NFL, one story can warm everyone's heart. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed a paralyzed player; a player who is a symbol of strength and dedication, a perfect example of what it means to never give up and always shoot for your dreams.

Eric LeGrand was a junior at Rutgers University, and Oct. 16, 2010 was just supposed to be another game day. The 6-foot-2 defensive tackle took the field against the Army Black Knights, not knowing that would be the last time he'd run onto New Meadowlands Stadium.

LeGrand suffered a severe spinal injury in an on-field collision and laid helplessly for several minutes before being brought to the Hackensack University Medical Center. The only thing he could move was his head.

At the hospital, his mother was informed her son was paralyzed from the neck down. No one on the medical staff thought he'd be able to survive without the use of a ventilator.

They were wrong.

Five weeks later, LeGrand began breathing on his own. Quickly after, he could stand up with the assistance of a metal frame.

Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is now coaching for the Bucs. When draft time came around, he couldn't help but think of LeGrand and how this would have been his draft class. So, he decided to bring his former DT on board.

"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."

After visiting the New York Jets training camp last season, linebacker Bart Scott was truly moved by LeGrand's spirit and sees his addition to the Bucs as being beneficial to not only Tampa Bay, but to the entire league.

"He's been so strong through the process and life deals with certain things, and it's all about how we choose to deal with it. I think that he's embraced it and he took the challenge on. I think he should be an inspiration to a lot of people."