The NFL Draft is one of the highlights of the NFL offseason. 7 rounds spread over 3 days, with over 200+ players drafted. Yet there is this one story that should get you teary-eyed.
You see, Eric LeGrand was a talented member of the Rutgers defensive line. But then, tragedy struck as he was injured in an attempt to make a tackle during a kickoff return last October 2010. The injury left him paralyzed and since then, he is making the effort to resume walking. He did return to the field for Rutgers (albeit in a wheelchair), as seen from the picture above.
His head coach back then, Greg Schiano, was hired by Tampa Bay to be the man to lead them back to respectability. With the draft over and trying to fill up players for the 90-man training camp roster, he wanted to remake the team in his own image. Then he thought of Eric, who would have been a part of the just-concluded NFL Draft Class as a senior if not for his "situation." Signing him, according to Greg, would be a recognition of his character, spirit and perseverance. He also adds, that Eric is precisely what he is looking for with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He broached the idea to Tampa GM Mark Dominik and Player Personnel Director Dennis Hickey, who sought, and got, permission from the Glazer family, who own the team to pursue the planned signing.
The photo below came from his press conference detailing his signing last June 5, as he made the effort to fly down to Tampa to visit the team. When the original announcement that Tampa signed him last May came out, he was still back in New Jersey, but the team sent the necessary details to him in NJ. This special contract Eric signed does not involve salary, but will definitely enable him to say that he is legitimately onto a NFL team roster.
The team also announced that special edition Eric LeGrand #52 jerseys will be made available for purchase. Proceeds from this jersey will go to LeGrand's foundation for spinal research and support.