Eric LeGrand wasn’t exactly expecting to get a call from an NFL team offering him a contract. The former Rutgers defensive tackle was paralyzed in a 2010 game and he has moved on to the next phase of his life, pursuing his college degree with the hopes of one day finding a career in broadcasting.
So, it came as quite a surprise when LeGrand answered a phone call from his former coach at Rutgers, Greg Schiano (now the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and was offered a contract.
“It came out of nowhere,” said LeGrand. “It’s a symbolic gesture. 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.”
Unfortunately, the gesture was largely overshadowed on a day filled with two much larger stories.
First, there was the announcement of the penalties for the Saints players involved in the “bountygate” scandal. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season. Vilma allegedly put $10,000 on the table for any Saints defender who injured Brett Favre in the 2010 NFC Championship game. Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (now with the Packers) was banned for eight games, defensive end Will Smith will miss four games and linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Browns) will miss three.
Then, within hours of the LeGrand story emerging, the world found out about the death of retired linebacker Junior Seau. Seau was found dead in a California home. Authorities have revealed that the cause of death is a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Eric LeGrand’s story is one of remarkable resilience and it’s a shame that it will be overshadowed by two negative stories.