TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Paralyzed former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand retired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, a little less than three months after his symbolic signing with the NFL team.
The contract LeGrand received from the team now led by his former college coach, Greg Schiano, had no monetary value. His No. 52 jersey remains available through the team's website with proceeds benefiting spinal cord research, and a book chronicling his life story is scheduled to be released in September.
"I've been blown away by the tremendous outpouring of support, both in Tampa Bay and nationally, through this whole thing," LeGrand said during a conference call. "Everyone's support has really motivated me more and more to get better. I grind hard every day to (achieve) my main goal — and that's to walk again."
He said while he will be a "Buccaneer for life" that he no longer wanted to occupy a roster spot that could be used for another player.
LeGrand broke two vertebrae and suffered a serious spinal cord injury in October 2010 during a kickoff return against Army. He became an inspiration to his college teammates, eventually being able to stand upright with the help of a metal frame.
He resumed his studies via video conferences in 2011 and last fall led the Scarlet Knights onto the field before a game.
"I knew from the beginning that I had to retire once I joined the team," LeGrand said. "I wanted to be able to have my team at full strength, with 90 people on the roster. I don't want to take up that spot from somebody who can really help the team."
LeGrand continues therapy and hopes to finish school next year before pursuing a career in broadcasting.