Friday, May 4, 2012

LeGrand Gesture

Greg Schiano is no longer the head football coach at Rutgers University. Eric LeGrand is no longer a member of the Rutgers University football team. These two men however are forever linked by the time each spent on the Banks of the Raritan. Theirs is a relationship forged out of the residue of a seemingly tragic incident. Theirs is an unbreakable bond.

Earlier this week, Greg Schiano - now fully ensconced in his position as the head football coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers - signed up Eric LeGrand one more time to be a member of his football organization, much as he had all those years ago when LeGrand was a senior at Colonia High School. Of course, given the catastrophic injury LeGrand suffered when he was injured during the Rutgers-Army game on October 16, 2010 he shall never play in the NFL. He knows that. His old ball coach knows that too. It matters not.

What matters is this: "The way Eric lives his life epitomizes what we are looking for in Buccaneer Men," Schiano said in a statement released by the Bucs.

And this: "Coach Schiano is like a father figure," LeGrand said on a conference call. "Going into Rutgers as a little boy and coming out a man. When you're faced with adversity, he's not going to say you back down at all. You deal with whatever it is. In life, you can't control what cards you're dealt. That's what's helped me through my whole situation. Sometimes it's hard, but I think about all the stuff I was taught at Rutgers. You fight through it. Tough times don't last. Only tough people do."

Football - both at the collegiate level and at the professional level - is big business. But it is, like any business, populated by human beings. The great Bernard Malamud wrote, "Without heroes we are all plain people and don't know how far we can go."

This week these two men reminded us that the sky is indeed the limit.


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