WHERE IS Eric LeGrand? Where isn't Eric LeGrand? Mondays and Fridays, LeGrand, the former Rutgers football player whose career was cut short by a spinal injury in 2010, is working with his foundation, Team LeGrand, and traveling the greater New York City area for appearances and speaking engagements. Tuesday through Thursday, he dedicates to physical therapy. Weekends during the football season he is the radio color analyst for the Scarlet Knights' home games and the pre- and postgame analyst when the team is on the road. He has served as a pitchman for Subway and has also written a book. "I've got a lot on my plate," he says, "and hopefully a lot more to come."
It's not the life LeGrand envisioned four years ago. The 6'2", 275-pound junior defensive lineman dreamed of an NFL future. On Oct. 16, 2010, playing special teams, LeGrand collided violently with Army kick returner Malcolm Brown. The force fractured LeGrand's C3 and C4 vertebrae, paralyzing him from the neck down. Doctors told his mother, Karen, that Eric would likely be on a ventilator the rest of his life; five weeks later he was breathing on his own. LeGrand has since increased the movement in his fingers and shoulders. "Therapy is slow, but it is coming along," he says.
In May, LeGrand graduated from Rutgers with a degree in labor relations. Completing the requirements was challenging. At first LeGrand was limited to one class per semester; he gradually upped his workload to four. On graduation day he delivered a commencement speech: "Don't ever let somebody tell you that you can't do something," he told the crowd.
"Getting that degree meant the world to me," says LeGrand. "It took so much work."
He is hoping to make a deal for his own satellite radio show, and eventually he would like to work games at the national level, a dream he had before the injury. "Honestly, I think about what my life would have been every day," he says. "I think about what NFL team I would be on. I picture myself wearing the uniform.
"But there is still so much I can do. There is so much I am looking forward to."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
INCH BY INCH Thanks to his physical therapy, LeGrand (left) can now lift his elbows and move his trunk forward and back.
[See caption above]