Bucs sign paralyzed player as classy gesture

Paralyzed defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was signed by the Buccaneers in a ceremonial move on...

Paralyzed defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was signed by the Buccaneers in a ceremonial move on Wednesday. (Rutgers University/File)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Mike Schiano was at Rutgers University two years ago when one of his players, defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, was paralyzed from the neck down, after tackling an Army kick returner.

On Wednesday morning, Tampa Bay signed LeGrand to its 90-man roster.

It's a ceremonial move -- LeGrand remains in a wheelchair -- but it says so much about Schiano.

And LeGrand.

The young man has defied odds time and again since the injury, first learning to breathe on his own five weeks later -- after being told he would never come off a ventilator -- then eventually even standing, with help.

"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. "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."

LeGrand told Sports Illustrated last year that his goal was to visit the spot at Giants Stadium where he was injured, lie down there, get up and walk away.

He has continued his studies at Rutgers, and plans to graduate in the fall with a degree in labour studies.

You can follow him on Twitter at @EricLeGrand52.


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