Noble Move By Team GlazerMay 2nd, 2012
The Bucs, like all NFL teams, are scouring the bushes to find any hidden gem to bring to their rookie mini-camp in hopes of finding the next Night Train Lane or Drew Pearson or Kurt Warner.
One player the Bucs signed this morning has no chance of ever making a football team, much less the Bucs. But that’s not the point.
Today, the Bucs announced that former Rutgers defensive lineman Eric LeGrand signed a contract with the team.
LeGrand, who played for new Bucs coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, won’t make the Bucs and won’t even participate in the rookie mini-camp.
That’s because LeGrand is paralyzed.
LeGrand made a tackle in a game against Army in October 2010 and couldn’t get up because he couldn’t move from the neck down. LeGrand was able to recover movement in his shoulders and some in his arms later in therapy.
LeGrand wouldn’t let the injury stop him. He is scheduled to graduate this fall with a degree in labor studies. This past year, he was also a radio analyst on Rutgers broadcasts.
LeGrand was able to take part in Senior Day ceremonies for Rutgers last season.
Per NJ.com, LeGrand will have some sort of affiliation with the Bucs, though currently his role is unspecified.
“Leading up to the draft, I couldn’t help but think that this should’ve been Eric’s draft class,” Schiano said in a statement released today by Rutgers and the Buccaneers. “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.”
This is just beyond a cool gesture by Team Glazer and Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik. LeGrand and Schiano are clearly very close. It is a nice gesture not just for your new coach, not just for the image of the team, but for LeGrand as well.
Such a move is not unprecedented. In 1981, Isiah Thomas led the Bobby Knight-coached Indiana Hoosiers to second national title in six seasons. A junior center was also a key member of the club, Landon Turner, who many expected to be a star in the NBA.
But fate was cruel to Turner, who was paralyzed in a car accident a few months later.
Knight and then-Boston Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach were close. Knight had mentioned to Auerbach that Turner was a huge Celtics fan and how nice of a gesture it would be if he could sign Turner as a free agent.
Auerbach one-upped Knight’s suggestion and selected Turner in the 1982 NBA draft.
Of course, that was in the days that the NBA had 10 rounds in its draft. If the NFL still had a 12-round draft, Joe’s pretty confident the Bucs would have pulled a similar move.
All around, this is turning into a proud Bucs week.