College football gets dangerous

On October 16, junior Eric LeGrand of Rutgers University fell victim to a severe spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down.

LeGrand, Rutgers’ defensive tackle, was playing in a game against Army. He was injured after making a special-teams tackle in the fourth quarter with 5:06 left on the clock.

LeGrand is currently in the intensive care unit at Hackensack University Medical Center following surgery to stabilize his spine which was injured at the C3-C4 level.

LeGrand was motionless for seven minutes after the hit, with coach Greg Schiano and the medical staff at his side. Medical personnel removed his facemask, immobilized his neck and strapped him to a backboard before removing him from the field for further examination.

“As you can imagine, it’s a nightmare for any parent,” Schiano said. “He’s got a great family. They were all there last night. Eric’s spirits were as good as you could expect, and he was cognizant of me being there and his mom and everybody. I saw him before and after surgery. He’s a fighter.”

After the 23-20 overtime win, Rutgers’ coaching staff and players rushed to the hospital to offer support for LeGrand and his family.

Schiano has visited LeGrand everyday since the accident, and even reached out to Penn State coach Joe Paterno, for advice on how to handle the situation. Paterno was consulted because of a similar previous experience with one of his players in 2000. Paterno recommended that Schiano make himself available for LeGrand and his family.

“I think everyone has joined together to do the best we can in a bad situation,” Schiano said. “We know it’s going to be a long road. It’s going to be one step at a time, and we’re going to do this as a family, the LeGrand family, the Rutgers football family. That’s the way we are going to approach it.”

Much has been done in honor of Eric LeGrand beyond the support of his family and teammates. Rutgers’ women’s soccer team wore LeGrand’s number 52 on t-shirts to show their support and hope for the recovery of LeGrand.

T-shirt and bracelet fundraising sales started in order to donate the proceeds to the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund, which will go directly to the LeGrand family. The Eric LeGrand Believe Fund is also available for all donors who would like to support LeGrand and his family. The address can be found on the Rutgers web site.

The fundraiser bracelets are being sold for $5 and have already raised $20,000, with more orders coming in. University of Pittsburgh students hung a sign showing support for LeGrand at a recent football game and passed out stickers for all to wear in the student section.



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