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Posted at 8:42 AM ET, 10/18/2010

Rutgers player, paralyzed from neck down, begins his recovery

By Cindy Boren

legrand.jpg
(Newark Star-Ledger photo)

Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand is recovering from spinal fusion surgery, hoping for a miraculous recovery that will let him walk again after being paralyzed from the neck down in a game Saturday night.

Ben LaSala, LeGrand's coach at Colonia High School in New Jersey visited his former player, who underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his spine Saturday, at Hackensack University Medical Center.

"He was trying to give me that smile," LaSala said. "He was actually thanking people for coming to visit him. I mean, can you imagine?"

His friends, family and teammates are hoping LeGrand, 20, will be the next Kevin Everett, the Buffalo Bills tight end who is walking again after suffering a serious spinal injury on a kickoff return in 2007.

At this point, "no one knows," Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano said, what LeGrand's prognosis will be. "Certainly, there's expertise. But I've done a lot of research in the last 24 hours ... and there are enough stories, starting with Adam Taliaferro ... As I talked to our team, we are going to believe that Eric is going to walk onto that field again."

Ten years ago, Taliaferro, a Penn State freshman, was paralyzed from the neck down after a violent hit.

"Right now he's scared and unsure of everything," Taliaferro said of LeGrand. "His life has changed forever. But he needs the support of his friends and family and teammates and he needs to stay positive. There's going to be a lot of negative news out there. He needs to block that out."

Taliaferro underwent surgery to fuse his spine and was walking after eight months of rehab.

"The toughest part immediately is the mental aspect," said Taliaferro, who's now a lawyer in Cherry Hill, N.J. "That's why he's going to need everyone around him to stay positive."

By Cindy Boren  | October 18, 2010; 8:42 AM ET
Categories:  College football  
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Comments


Jackson was hit by Robinson Dunt Atlanta area that, like many defensive backs, bowed his head to kick in and the process itself and almost eliminated. Several other players, including Detroit and Cleveland Zack Follett Josh Cribbs were also put out games this weekend. Rutgers Player Paralyzed
http://usspost.com/rutgers-player-paralyzed-2-20366/

Posted by: susan166 | October 18, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Mr. LeGrand: You and your family are in my prayers. The coming days are going to be tough. Please stay strong. I wish you all the very best.

Posted by: ashbash1 | October 18, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Although, like millions of people in this country, I love to watch this sport, I've always hated more than anything to see or hear about tragic events like this in football. But I am DEFINITELY going to keep this young man in my prayers.

Posted by: lwilliamson1 | October 18, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

This is so sad. One would think that after seeing Kevin Everett's prognosis change so quickly once he had the cold injections immediately following his injury, teams would be ready for this type of injury.

It would be nice if the schools could start using this type of experimental treatment to chill the spinal cord, and reduce the swelling until proper treatment in the hospital setting could be given.

ad.http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/09/14/cooling_seen_aiding_players_recovery/

Posted by: anonymouslurker | October 18, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

In the NFL, athletes are protected by a CBA, through which they are entitled to disability benefits when they are permanently injured. While the CBA in the NFL is relatively weak compared to other sports, such as the MLB, it is at least something that protects. Rookies are not protected by the agreement because of they cannot join the union.

Luckily, he has the opportunity to get an education. Hopefully, the NCAA and Rutgers will give him a scholarship for the rest of his undergraduate education. He ought to be entitled to post-graduate funding as well.

Kevin Everett gets lifetime disability $$$ from the NFL. Will the NCAA support this guy in the same manner?

Posted by: jboogie1 | October 18, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

In the NFL, athletes are protected by a CBA, through which they are entitled to disability benefits when they are permanently injured. While the CBA in the NFL is relatively weak compared to other sports, such as the MLB, it is at least something that protects. Rookies are not protected by the agreement because of they cannot join the union.

Luckily, he has the opportunity to get an education. Hopefully, the NCAA and Rutgers will give him a scholarship for the rest of his undergraduate education. He ought to be entitled to post-graduate funding as well.

Kevin Everett gets lifetime disability $$$ from the NFL. Will the NCAA support this guy in the same manner?

Posted by: jboogie1 | October 18, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

susan166 - wtf is that jibberish you wrote? I can't even begin to understand what you were trying to say. Get your sheite together before posting.

Our prayers are with you Mr. LeGrand.

Posted by: keedrow | October 18, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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