Posted by Adam Jacobi
The college football world is still reeling from the news that Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand is currently paralyzed from the neck down after suffering a spinal injury last weekend against Army. LeGrand was making a tackle on special teams and put his head down at the wrong moment, and here we are.
LeGrand's coaches and teammates at Rutgers are especially emotionally invested in the situation, as one would imagine. And rather than just affix LeGrand's number to the back of their helmets as if he'd just passed away, the Scarlet Knights are going for a more positive, spirit-affirming tribute to their fallen teammate:
This is a cool tribute for LeGrand, and a good way to keep his upbeat personality fresh in everybody's minds during practices and games. Moreover, there is some reason to believe LeGrand will be walking again at some point. But that has less to do with LeGrand's attitude and toughness (both of which we're certain he's got in spades, being that he's an FBS scholarship football player -- the timid and lazy don't make it nearly that far) and more to do with medical breakthroughs that happen every day, every week, and every year in spinal cord rehabilitation.
For example, scientists are now regenerating nerves in the spinal cords of mice, according to reports from two months ago. That's not to say that they're healing the injuries completely or that clinical trials for humans are beginning shortly, but the way the science is progressing, there could be a better-than-50% chance that LeGrand's walking within the next 20 years. Let's certainly hope so, anyway, because nobody -- much less an athletic young man -- deserves to endure the cruelty of quadriplegia.