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A dream realized

by JULIA DEMARCO Staff Writer

Former Rutgers player Eric LeGrand will fulfill a lifetime goal in the NFL after getting drafted by close friend and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach, Greg Schiano, on May 3. During preparations for drafts, Schiano said that he could not help but think about LeGrand, mainly because he would have been a seinor and a top choice to be put on from the start. “The way Eric lives his life epitomizes what we are looking for in Buccaneer Men,” Schiano said in a statement released by the Bucs. LeGrand explains Schiano was like a father figure to him. “When you’re faced with adversity … he’s going to make sure you face it front on and deal with whatever the situation is,” said LeGrand. “In life you can’t control what card you’re dealt. You’ve just got to deal with that card you’re dealt. That’s helped me in my situation.” LeGrand became paralyzed during a game against the Army Black Knights on October 16, 2010. He injured his spinal chord, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors and LeGrand’s medical personnel told him that he would become a quadriplegic and need to live with a respirator for the rest of his life. However, LeGrand proved to everyone that he would be able to get better. LeGrand fought through the traumatic experience and was able to breathe normally after only five weeks of being on the respirator. His doctor said that he recoved so quickly due to the excellent health he was in from football. “It’s really amazing how quick he recovered from the accident he had. Most people would be traumatized and feel they could never go back to it,” said freshman George Exarchakis. During the game, he injured two vertebrae, leading to the problem with LeGrand’s walking. He can now walk upright for around 15 minutes with the help of a metal plate in his spinal chord. After hearing about LeGrand’s draft, rapper Lil Wayne tweeted, “Today Eric LeGrand was drafted into the NFL. Mark this down as a beautiful day in sports.” “I think its great that the coach did such a nice thing and let Mr. LeGrand be on the team; he really deserves it,” said freshman Greg Chaves. LeGrand’s future plans are to finish schooling at Rutger’s, which he had to catch up on from the accident. After LeGrand retires, he wants to become a sports broadcaster. LeGrand visited his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers June 5, 2012. After practice he gave many thanks for allowing him to join them this season. As for LeGrands number 52 jersey, it will be sold on the internet and all money made from it are being donated to further spinal chord research. LeGrand lives in New Jersey with his mother now and doesn’t expect Tuesday’s visit at Tampa to be his last. LeGrand will be returning to Florida more times this summer and then finish off by attending the Bucs’ regular season opener in Tampa, as well as the club’s road date against the New York Giants in Week 2. With high hopes he made a good impression on the team, LeGrand says, “I plan on being around,” he said, “so I’m hoping they don’t get tired of me.”

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