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LeGrand: Bucs jersey sales will benefit spinal cord research

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 04:44 PM

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Proudly wearing his No. 52 Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey at team headquarters, paralyzed former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand announced Tuesday that the jersey is now on sale, with all proceeds benefitting his foundation for spinal injury research and support.

LeGrand made the announcement at One Buccaneer Place as he sat beside his former college coach, first-year Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano, during a press conference that was streamed live on the Bucs' website.

Schiano and the Bucs signed LeGrand to an NFL contract as an undrafted free agent in May. The contract includes no salary, but allowed LeGrand to fulfill his dream of being an NFL player.

"People talk about heroes," Schiano said. "This guy is, in my book, a true hero and a true inspiration."

The Eric LeGrand Foundation Game jersey is available on the Bucs website for $99.95. It is a special event item produced by Nike in conjunction with Rutgers, IMG and the Bucs.

The Eric LeGrand Foundation will help with spinal cord research and assist other victims of severe spinal cord injury with financial assistance and other forms of support.

LeGrand, who attended the Bucs voluntary workout Tuesday and spoke to the team, said it's all part of his mission to inspire others with his story and turn a potentially devastating negative into a tremendous positive.

"Good things happen to good people," said LeGrand, who vows to walk again. "When you believe in yourself and believe in the Lord above, anything is possible.

"I'm out there trying to inspire a whole world of people and change the world, one day at a time."

LeGrand believes his positive attitude and his faith already have made a difference doctors said wouldn't after he broke two vertebrae in his neck and suffered severe spinal cord damage during a Rutgers game against Army two years ago.

He said he has some feeling below his neck, which he described as "twitches" and "jolts" in his fingers, triceps and biceps.

"Things the doctors said would never happen," LeGrand said. "That's what they can't explain, because they've never seen it before. I can't explain it, because they can't explain it."

LeGrand said his message to his new teammates was simple.

"I want them to appreciate what they have. They get to make a lot of money doing the thing they love," he said. "Don't take anything for granted that a lot of people don't have. Appreciate everything you have."

LeGrand said it has been his dream to be in the NFL ever since he was a young child. Being in the Bucs headquarters, around the players and watching drills he was so familiar with from his time at Rutgers made it all real Tuesday.

"Being around an NFL team, around NFL players is the greatest feeling in the world," he said. "I feel like I'm part of a team. I'm blessed."

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