bill-swift - May 3, 2012
The news surrounding the NFL is often depressing. If there isn't someone getting arrested for drug possession, they are getting arrested for DUIs, domestic violence, and any number of things (dog fighting, murder, manslaughter, drug dealing, weapons possession, sexual assault--you get my drift?).
These last few months the dominant story has been one about a bunch of guys that tried to injure players for money, and not big money either. It was usually a few hundred or maybe $1000 (and one time $10,000 courtesy of one player) when they all make hundreds of thousands if not millions. Can we all say classless?
Thankfully there is still some class in a league that is becoming populated more and more by criminals, cheaters, and malcontents. On Wednesday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers distinguished themselves as one of the classier organization in the National Football League when they signed a guy that will never play a single down.
On Hump Day the Buccaneers did something that every team has been doing since the Draft ended last Saturday. They released a statement that mentioned they had signed one of the many undrafted free agent rookies that were available. However, the player in question is not your typical player.
His name is Eric LeGrand. He played defensive tackle at Rutgers and he's paralyzed.
Back during the Scarlett Knights' game against Army on October 16, 2010, LeGrand suffered a spinal cord injury while going in for a tackle. Paralyzed from the neck down he had to use a ventilator to breathe, but has since been able to breathe on his own.
LeGrand's coach at Rutgers, Greg Schiano, is now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When you hear why the team signed LeGrand the reason behind the gesture is clear:
"Leading up to the draft, I couldn't help but think that this should've been Eric's draft class. 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."
If you're tearing up a little bit it's okay. Go ahead and dab your eyes if you need to. This is pretty emotional stuff.
Now when it comes time for the final cut of the preseason it would be shocking to see LeGrand's name still on the roster. With only 53 players allowed teams typically need every last spot for guys that will play; nice as the gesture is, the game must go on.
Whether or not the team ends up cutting him is not important anyway because from now until that time comes he gets to do something that millions of kids dream. He gets to call himself a professional football player.
Article by Travis Pulver
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.