NFL Contract No Dream for Paralyzed Player

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By DERON SNYDER

This week has been a rough one for the NFL.

Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide, raising more questions about the effects of playing football. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended four players, including a season-long ban for New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, for their alleged roles in a “bounty program.” As the NFL Players Association filed a grievance after announcing plans for a vigorous defense, former quarterback and current NFL Network broadcaster said he’d prefer that his sons not play football.

But a heartwarming event occurred in the midst of all that negativity (even if the reason is a bit depressing). New Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano signed one of his former players, Eric LeGrand, to a contract with the Buccaneers. Though the move was symbolic — LeGrand has been paralyzed since suffering an injury during a Rutgers game on Oct. 16, 2010 — it helped highlight the player’s remarkable, inspirational story.

“Leading up to the draft, I couldn’t help but think that this should’ve been Eric’s draft class,” Schiano said in a release by the Bucs. “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.”

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