A day rife with awful news in the NFL actually began with a heart-tugger of a feel-good story.
What a shame it got overwhelmed by the events of the day.
You might have missed it, so it’s worth repeating — before I get into updates on Vince Young‘s workout with the Bills, how Stevie Johnson is feeling post-surgery, Belichick’s ‘Blues Brothers’ of sorts, and Wednesday NFL comings and goings.
New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Mike Schiano was at Rutgers University two years ago when one of his players, defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, was paralyzed from the neck down, after tackling an Army kick returner.
On Wednesday morning, Tampa Bay signed LeGrand to its 90-man roster.
It’s a ceremonial move — LeGrand remains in a wheelchair — but it says so much about Schiano’s heart. And even more about LeGrand’s.
“That they would put me as the last man on their roster is just incredible,” LeGrand told reporters on a conference call after the news was announced.
The young man has defied odds time and again since the injury, first learning to breathe on his own just five months after being told he would never come off a ventilator — then eventually even standing, with help. He now sits up on his own for 15 minutes a day.
“Leading up to the draft, I couldn’t help but think that this should’ve been Eric’s draft class,” Schiano said in a statement. “This small gesture is the least we could do to recognize his character, spirit and perseverance. The way Eric lives his life epitomizes what we are looking for in Buccaneer Men.”
LeGrand told Sports Illustrated last year that his goal was to visit the spot at Giants Stadium where he was injured, lie down there, get up and walk away.
He has continued his studies at Rutgers, and plans to graduate in the fall with a degree in labour studies.
“(Coach Schiano) actually called my mom first about this on Monday … It was something I always dreamed about,” LeGrand said Wednesday.
“Dreams really do come true.”
You can follow Eric LeGrand on Twitter at @EricLeGrand52
To help Eric and his family make ends meet, donations can be made to:
The Eric LeGrand Believe Fund
PNC Wealth Management
Attn: Kimberly G. Kingsland, Senior Trust Advisor
One Palmer Square Suite 201
Princeton, NJ 08542
THANKS FOR COMIN’ OUT: Free-agent castoff Vince Young auditioned to be the Bills backup quarterback on Wednesday, and a few Buffalo players had supporting roles.
Bills wide receivers David Nelson, Donald Jones, Naaman Roosevelt and Marcus Easley all caught passes for Young, as he worked out for team officials.
The former Tennessee Titans star’s workout was private. Thus, the club did not say whether Young had completed any of the passes.
(Shout-out to @BrentM22 for that gem.)
Actually, Nelson told an AP reporter that Young “looked good,” and that he’s “definitely in shape, working out and working hard.”
Young evidently flew out of town afterward.
Don’t hold your breath, Bills fans.
ON THE MEND: The Bills’ star WR, Stevie Johnson, was planning to return to Buffalo on Wednesday, after undergoing minor surgery the day before in Philadelphia to repair an injured groin muscle he played with last season.
The surgery went well, Johnson tweeted from the recovery room:
“Thank Yall! Successful Op. Still Pretty as Ever maybe a bit more from after the surgery… Ha what? RecoveryMode now.”
Evidently once the pain-killers started wearing off, Johnson wasn’t so bubbly: “Surgery not fun.”
Later, he tweeted, “Slow Motion but in Motion.”
Johnson is expected to be ready to go by the next Bills off-season workout, on May 29.
WHO’S NEXT, RANDY MOSS?: Bill Belichick is getting the band back together, it appears. Two of Tom Brady‘s favourite receiving targets during the Patriots’ 16-0 regular season in 2007 are back in the fold. First Donte Stallworth, now Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney tweeted Wednesday — just one day after the Redskins released him — that he, too, will soon re-sign with the Pats.
COMINGS AND GOINGS: Chiefs GM Scott Pioli told Kansas City sports radio station 801 WHB that longtime Colts tight end Dallas Clark, now a free agent, was visiting KC and would take a physical on Wednesday. Pioli also said seven-year free-agent safety O.J. Atogwe — of Windsor, Ont. — ”was in a couple nights ago, right after the draft.” … The Jets dumped DL Ropati Pitoitua, who became expendable when Quinton Coples was drafted in the first round … The Bears signed second-round draft pick WR Alshon Jeffrey to a four-year deal … The Ravens signed veteran nose tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu, who has missed two of the past three seasons.