As his fellow Tampa Bay Buccaneers gathered for the start of their 2012 training camp on Thursday morning, defensive tackle Eric LeGrand announced his retirement from football. As a result, the Buccaneers will now place him on their reserve/retired list.
LeGrand, the inspirational former Rutgers football player, signed with the Buccaneers on May 2, shortly after the 2012 NFL Draft. The signing, which was the initiated by current Tampa Bay and former Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano, fulfilled LeGrand's lifelong dream to make it to the NFL. He now wishes to help his team compete in 2012 by creating a spot on the 90-man training camp roster.
"Making it to the NFL was my dream. But now I want to see my team as strong as possible at the start of Training Camp," he said. "I'm a Buc for life."
Since being signed by the Buccaneers, LeGrand has been honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2012 ESPYs and has also received Spike TV's 2012 Guysman of the Year Award. In September, HarperCollins Publishers will release LeGrand's first books, a memoir entitled Believe: My Faith And The Tackle That Changed My Life, and a young readers version, Believe: The Victorious Story Of Eric LeGrand.
LeGrand has also found time to spend with his new team. During a visit to a Buccaneers' practice session in June, he delivered an emotional speech in the locker room that has since served as inspiration for many of his teammates. LeGrand plans to return to Tampa during the regular season to help spur his team on once again.
LeGrand may have retired from football but he is far from idle. Having achieved his dream of making it to the NFL, he is in pursuit of two other major life goals. He is determined to walk again following the football play in 2010 that left him paralyzed from the neck down, and he has already defied the medical odds in many ways. He has also made it a mission to inspire others who have suffered from spinal injuries and to help in the fight to find a cure for paralysis. To that end, he has established the Eric LeGrand Foundation, through which he intends to "inspire a whole world of people and change the world day by day."
Eric LeGrand officially went from "active" to "reserve/retired" on Thursday. In more complete terms, however, LeGrand is "a Buc for life."