All athletes risk being injured, but their powerful constitution helps them survive them.
Rutgers’ former defensive tackle Eric LeGrand broke his neck in the Scarlet Knights’ 23-20 overtime victory against Army, October 16, 2010, and has been paralyzed below his neck ever since. While he has experienced tingling in his fingers and right wrist, his recovery is still a long shot. But, he is more optimistic than most and the entire Rutgers Scarlet Knights organization stands behind him as Coach Kyle Flood and the university made the choice to give LeGrand the distinct honor of being the first number to be retired in the school’s 144-year history.
LeGrand is in awe of the gesture and feels the gravity of the honor.
“It’s really tremendous. The first in school history? From the birthplace of college football?” he said. “It’s crazy.”
LeGrand has been a role model for the other players ever since he was injured because he has shown his team a “never give up” type of constitution that may lead to his full recovery.
“If there’s anyone who deserves to be the first one at the school to have their jersey retired, it’s him,” Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova said. “To be faced with the challenges he’s been facing and to go about it the way he’s gone about it, he’s a role model for everyone.
Coach Flood also gave a condition to retiring the #52 that adds even more of a distinction to the honor.
“The one caveat that I put on (this) with him — and I said this to him because I’ve been around Eric enough to know that he makes this statement quite often — is that he’s going go back to the stadium, to where it happened, and he’s going to get up from that spot and he’s going to walk off the field,” Flood said during football media day for the American Athletic Conference. “And I told him, ‘I know you’re going do that, too. And when you do it, I’m going to un-retire your jersey.’”
The jersey will be retired September 14, 2013, during the game against Eastern Michigan.
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