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Eric LeGrand to attend Giants-Bucs game

Paralyzed former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand smiles

Paralyzed former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand smiles as he answers a question while sitting near a Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet in Piscataway, N.J., after it was announced that he had been signed by the Buccaneers. (May 2, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Eric LeGrand is headed back to MetLife Stadium Sunday to cheer on his former coach.

LeGrand, a former Rutgers player, broke his neck at the stadium nearly two years ago during a game against Army. His coach in that game, Greg Schiano, is now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who play the Giants on Sunday. Schiano said in a telephone conference call Wednesday that the Giants have given LeGrand tickets for the game.

LeGrand could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but the Giants did confirm that they have invited him to the game. It is not his first trip back to the stadium since the injury; he attended the Jets-Giants preseason game this year.

"Just that he can be there and watch is a good New Jersey thing and a good thing for football overall," Schiano said.

Initially told he would spend the rest of his life as a quadriplegic and on a ventilator, LeGrand's perseverance and optimism became a national inspiration. Within five weeks of the injury he resumed breathing on his own and is now able to stand upright with the help of a metal frame.

Schiano, who has remained close to LeGrand, signed him to a contract with Tampa Bay in May. LeGrand "retired" in July to vacate a roster spot, but Schiano flew him and his mother, Karen, to Tampa Bay for the Buccaneers' season opener against Carolina last Sunday where he was introduced to the crowd as a retired Buccaneer.

"He's like family," Schiano said. "Eric's become a guy who means an awful lot to a bunch of us."

New York Sports