The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed an undrafted free agent today, and while every NFL team is signing multiple free agents to fill out their rosters for training camp, this signing was special.
Former Rutgers head coach and current Bucs head coach Greg Schiano signed defensive tackle Eric LeGrand to an NFL contract. LeGrand was paralyzed in an on-field injury 18 months ago, but that hasn’t stopped him from making it to an NFL roster. LeGrand will be reunited with Schiano in a symbolic role – no money changed hands on the contract, but LeGrand will receive his number 52 Bucs jersey and join the list of Rutgers players who made it to the NFL.
“To see my name as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, it’s what I’ve been fighting for,” LeGrand said. “… It’s a just a blessing. I’m going to walk in [Hale Center] and see my name one day.”
“Coach Schiano is like a father figure,” LeGrand continued. “I’m coming out [of Rutgers] a man. He’s the type of person, when you’re faced with adversity, he’s not going to back down at all. … You just have to deal with the cards you’re dealt and that helped me with my whole situation.”
Schiano continues to dpeak with LeGrand weekly since he left for Tampa Bay.
LeGrand will be joining former Rutgers players Jeremy Zuttah and Desmond Wynn on the Bucs roster. “I heard it’s like Rutgers South down there right now,” LeGrand said. “It’s our Rutgers brotherhood. It’s our bond together. We stick together.”
LeGrand is excelling in his recover program. He is currently finished with his walking program, after about 80 sessions, and is now working on improving his strength at Kessler Institute.
LeGrand said that his goal remains to walk onto the field at High Point Solutiosn Stadium and lead the Scarlet Knights out of the tunnel.
“I just keep it going every single day and keep on believing, stay on my grind like it was football,” LeGrand said. “… My goal is to walk. I know it’s going to happen. I believe this happened for a reason. My goal is to get back on my feet.”
With so much bad news going on around the NFL every day, including heartbreaking events like the loss of former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, this is a story worth paying attention to… for all the right reasons.