As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened training camp, Eric LeGrand, their most inspirational player, announced his retirement.
The signing of LeGrand, the Rutgers player who was paralyzed in a game in 2010, in May was ceremonial, a gesture by former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, now Tampa Bay’s coach, to allow LeGrand to fulfill his dream of becoming an NFL player. He delivered an emotional address after signing, but, with the season bearing down and roster spots precious, LeGrand is moving aside.
“I am retiring as a Buccaneer player today,” he said, via Twitter. “I knew I wouldn't keep the roster spot forever and my team enters camp today and I want them to go in with a full squad of 90 people so I am not in the way of them reaching a championship.
“Every man counts. I am still a Buccaneer for life, just not as a player.”
In a statement released by the team, he added: “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. I'm a Buc for life.”
LeGrand will continue to work on his rehabilitation in New Jersey and no doubt will continue to inspire the Bucs, just as he did Rutgers.
“My goal is to walk,” he said in May. “I know it's going to happen. I believe this happened for a reason. My goal is to get back on my feet. I'm going to keep on fighting. I don't know when it will happen, but down the road, it will happen. If you believe in the man upstairs, anything is legit to happen.”