In a heart-felt gesture, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed to a contract Rutgers’ Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed when he broke two vertebrae and suffered a serious spinal cord injury on Oct. 16, 2010, during a kickoff return against Army.
It was the act of new Bucs coach Greg Schiano, who was LeGrand’s coach at the time of his injury.
‘It came out of nowhere,” LeGrand said Wednesday to the Associated Press. Schiano called it a ”small gesture” that recognizes LeGrand’s ”character, spirit and perseverance.”
”It’s a symbolic gesture,” LeGrand added. “They can’t give me any money with the salary cap and all that kind of stuff. It’s symbolic, something Coach wanted to do and I appreciate that. It just shows the man that he is.”
LeGrand remains in rehab. He fought hard to be able to stand upright with the help of a metal frame.
When Chiano told his former player of his intentions, LeGrand was stunned. ”I said, ‘Are you serious? You want to do this?’ He said: ‘It’s the least we could do,”’ LeGrand said during a conference call from the apartment he shares with his mother in New Jersey. ”I said, ‘I don’t even know what to say to you right now, Coach. This is amazing.”’
Part of this gesture is a No. 52 Bucs jersey, Bucs helmet and contract.
”It’s something I always dreamed about, go to the NFL and retire and become a sportscaster,” LeGrand said. ”Dreams do come true if you really believe. You do the right things in life, good things happen to you. He really just did this out of the kindness of his heart. It’s really what he wanted to do. I had no idea this was going to happen.”