Football is a violent game and it is played by incredible athletes. Unfortunately when you combine those two things, tragic things can happen just like what happened this weekend to Rutgers Defensive Tackle Eric LeGrand. It was a scary, sad, and almost unwatchable scene on Saturday when LeGrand was laying motionless on the ground after making a tackle on a kickoff that has now left him paralyzed below the neck. LeGrand was taken off the field and underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his spine. When things like this happen it puts everything in perspective and the only thing left to do is to pray for the young man and everybody else involved in a tragedy like this.
Greg Schiano joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to talk about the injury sustained by Eric LeGrand, what he saw on that play, what he thinks of the kind of support he and everyone else have gotten since this tragic collision, and what he has to do as a coach moving forward.
On the injury to Eric LeGrand:
“Thank you Mike and I want to thank all the fans and the supporters for their prayers and well wishes. Those prayers are being answered. He’s resting comfortably now at Hackensack Medical Center and he had an extensive surgery on Saturday night into Sunday morning. Now it’s just we have to wait and see how things go. Everyone involved with this program, we believe that he’s going to walk again and that’s just how we feel.”
On what he saw on the play:
“It was a violent collision. I’ve seen a lot worse with placement of the head where you say ‘oooh.’ This one didn’t look extraordinarily compromising. There’s such big bodies moving at such high rates of speed that you just never know. He’s a tough guy, he’s a guy that’s got a ton of fight in him, and he’s gonna recover.”
On how quick everyone came to his aid when he was injured:
“I’ll tell ya I was so impressed with our medical crew, the Army medical crew, the people at the Meadowlands, they moved very efficiently, they did everything just right and got him to Hackensack Medical Center to do all the right protocol. Certainly it’s giving Eric every chance to recover. He had the best doctors and he’s being cared for at the highest level.”
On people reaching out with their thoughts and prayers:
“Without a doubt and a lot of those people have reached out to us. It’s been an incredible outpouring of both prayers and support and expertise. People from all around the country willing to help. It really reinforces in my mind what a great group of people are involved in college athletics and in the game of football. I’ve had coaches from all over the country and athletic administrators and everybody with their well wishes and prayers. It’s all good stuff.”
On what he has to do moving forward as a head coach and how difficult it will be for him:
“It’s very difficult, you’re right, but we’re very honest with our guys on all things. This is no different. We got them together at noon on Sunday and explained everything, the situation, and where it is currently. I talked to them a little bit and told them that there is not a lot we can do as individuals to help Eric except other than to pray for him. What he would want, Eric plays this game with great passion. He truly loves the game, loves everything about it. The best way you can honor him is to go out and practice that way and perform that way. I’ve seen that in our team. They’re a hard working team as it is and I can see another level. That’s what I’m going to talk to them about.”