TAMPA, Fla. -- In a symbolic gesture, the [URL="http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/_/name/tam/tampa-bay-buccaneers"]Tampa Bay Buccaneers[/URL] signed Rutgers defensive tackle [URL="http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/_/id/382171/eric-legrand"]Eric LeGrand[/URL], whose career was ended by a spinal cord injury, on Wednesday morning.
LeGrand played for Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers. In an Oct. 16, 2010 game against Army, LeGrand suffered fractures of two vertebrae and a spinal cord injury.
LeGrand initially was told he would be a quadriplegic and would have to remain on a ventilator. Five weeks later, LeGrand began breathing on his own. Later, he became able to stand upright with the aid of a metal frame.
LeGrand resumed his studies last spring. He led the Scarlet Knights onto the field for an Oct. 29, 2011 game and has remained very close with Schiano.
"Leading up to the draft, I couldn't help but think that this should've been Eric's draft class," Schiano said. "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."
The Bucs also decided to make the signing on May 2, to symbolize LeGrand's college number (52).
LeGrand is planning to graduate next fall with a degree in labor studies.
Very nice move by Schiano and the Bucs.
I had the opportunity to meet LeGrand last year before the Pinstripe Bowl. The entire Rutgers team was taking a tour of the World Trade Center Memorial...and they were waiting for their team buses in my office building lobby. I walked up to LeGrand, introduced myself and offered my congrats on the Sports Illustrated recognition. He was an incredibly humble, personable guy. We spoke for about 5 minutes and I could tell...this guy is headed for a really bright future in life.
Cool move, but what does this do? Does this make LeGrand feel better that he was signed to a one day contract even though he unfortunately will never get to play again?
I think it'd be cooler if they signed him to a one year league minimum contract, which would pay him something, or if they sold his jerseys and gave him a cut as Paulie mentioned...but this doesn't do a single thing. It might actually have an unintended negative reaction to LeGrand's way of thinking.