Paralyzed football player will talk at Rutgers commencement after initially being told no

Sep 14, 2013; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights former player Eric LeGrand comes onto the field at halftime of a game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles for his jersey number retirement ceremony at High Points Solutions Stadium. Image by The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Paralyzed football player will talk at Rutgers commencement after initially being told no

By Jay Sorgi. CREATED May 6, 2014 - UPDATED: May 6, 2014

Former Rutgers University lineman Eric LeGrand has been one of the most inspiring figures in college football over the last decade. He was looking forward to sharing that inspiration at the school's commencement later this month. But the paralyzed lineman revealed on Twitter that Rutgers officials decided to rescind that opportunity in favor of former N.J. Gov Tom Kean.

However, Rutgers University said Tuesday that LeGrand will speak at commencement after all, with Rutgers President Robert Barchi saying it was all a "misunderstanding."

After the offer was initially rescinded, LeGrand told, "I just want an explanation. I wish somebody would have given me a call tonight and explained to me why. Then I can understand, but don't just leave me hanging.

"I just feel like I was offered something and it was taken back and I don't know the reasons why," he added. "I wasn't told the reasons why. I thought I was a good fit for the position to do it. I thought I could do the job, but I guess they thought different."

That explanation came from Barchi, who now says, "It was never our intention that Eric would be the only speaker. We have resolved that miscommunication and are delighted to have him participate.

"Eric holds a special place in the hearts of the Class of 2014 and the entire university community," Barachi continued. "We are thrilled that he will be joining us on stage to make this special occasion even more memorable."

LeGrand was paralyzed playing defensive tackle during a Rutgers game in 2010.

Original Rutgers commencement speaker Condoleezza Rice backed out on Saturday.


Jay Sorgi

Jay Sorgi

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Jay Sorgi, a lifelong sports fanatic, is an editor for He's also a reporter for 620WTMJ and the Packers Radio Network.