In touching moment, Eric LeGrand leads Rutgers onto field

A little over a year after being paralyzed from the neck down, former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand led the Scarlett Knights onto the field today for their game against West Virginia.

LeGrand has been a model for perseverance since the injury, as he continues to be a bright personality in public. He’s even done some play-by-play while he continues to recover from his injuries.

From the ESPN New York article:

LeGrand was wearing a black Rutgers jersey like the rest of the team, and rode his motorized wheelchair, with an axe on his lap — a symbol of coach Greg Schiano’s mantra of “keep chopping.” Junior defensive tackle Scott Vallone and junior linebacker Khaseem Greene — both former roommates of LeGrand’s — were on either side of him, with the rest of the players following behind.

LeGrand led the team to the 50-yard line, turned right and went to the sideline before quickly leaving the field.

Amidst the snowstorm, the half-filled stadium was filled with chants of “52!” — LeGrand’s former number.

Doctors predicted LeGrand would never be able to breathe without a ventilator after the injury, but he is now standing for 40 minutes at a time in therapy, and predicts he will walk again.

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Eric LeGrand’s injury a painful reminder of how violent football can be

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25: Rutgers Stadium is seen during a Rutgers Scarlet Knights football game against the North Carolina Tar Heels on September 25, 2010 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Football is a thrilling sport. The harder the hits, the more fans enjoy the game. The faster the action, the more exciting the sport becomes.

But when you see Rutgers’ defensive tackle Eric LeGrand carried off the field on a stretcher after sustaining a neck injury, you’re reminded of how violent the game of football can be. How unforgiving the sport is sometimes.

Replays showed that LeGrand ran full speed into Army’s Malcolm Brown following a 22-yard kick return with five minutes remaining in Rutgers’ 23-20 overtime win on Saturday. Both players hit the ground, but only one got up.

The 6-foot-2, 275-pound LeGrand laid motionless on the turf for nearly seven minutes before being lifted onto a backboard with his head and body immobilized. He was then carted off the field to an ambulance, which transported him to the medical center.

LeGrand fractured his C3 and C4 vertebrae and was he arrived at the medical center he underwent emergency surgery in order to stabilize his spine. There’s concern that he will never walk again.

My heart goes out to LeGrand, his family and friends, as well as Rutgers University. I’m sure everyone will support Eric and give him the hope he needs moving forward. There have been many positive stories about people walking again after neck surgery and while I don’t know LeGrand personally, I’ll be rooting for him in his recovery.

Get better, Eric.

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