They're calling it a symbolic gesture: an NFL team signs a guy in a wheelchair. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing of paralyzed Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand is more than that. It's a big touch of humanity in a business that can be cold and hard and as bottom-line, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately as exists on the planet.
So good for the Bucs. And good for their classy coach Greg Schiano, who was LeGrand's coach when he played for the Scarlet Knights.
"Leading up to the draft, I couldn't help but think that this should've been Eric's draft class," Schiano said. "This small gesture is the least we could do to recognize his character, spirit and perseverence. The way Eric lives his life epitomizes what we are looking for in Buccaneer Men."
LeGrand, you'll remember, fractured two vertebrae and a horrific spinal cord injury two years ago in a Rutgers game against Army. He was told he'd be a quadripelegic and rely on a ventilator for the rest of his life. But he's made amazing strides, including breathing on his own and standing with the help of a mechanical device.
Now I hope the Bucs bring the kid to Tampa to talk to the team about courage and perseverence and all those other attributes football teams are always talking about.
That would be more of an eye-opener for the Bucs than a thousand half-time pep talks.