Eric LeGrand ‘a little upset’ about snub, now scheduled to speak

Eric LeGrand
Eric LeGrand will speak at Rutgers commencement after all.
Credit: Getty Images

After experiencing see-saw emotions over the past 24 hours, former Rutgers defensive lineman Eric LeGrand will speak at Rutgers graduation ceremonies next weekend. The reversal comes just a day after he learned the university had invited former Gov. Tom Kean to speak at graduation despite previously offering that role to LeGrand over the weekend.

Last week, scheduled commencement speaker Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, backed out due to a backlash on campus over her connection to the George W. Bush administration. No replacement was named until Monday when Kean was formally unveiled as the graduation speaker.

But on Saturday night, the Rutgers chief of staff reached out to LeGrand to offer him the same speaking role, nearly two days before Kean was formally announced. For a university that has taken some pretty big punches the last year, it was another prominent black eye.

LeGrand found out on Monday via a voicemail from athletic director Julie Hermann he had been bumped off the stage. In the message, she voiced concern for him and promised to continue fighting for him to speak at graduation. Then on Tuesday afternoon, university president Robert Barchi called to re-extend the offer to LeGrand.

“The president and I talked over everything,” LeGrand told Metro New York. “He told me about the miscommunication and that he was looking forward to me addressing the class.”

Since being paralyzed midway through the 2010 season, LeGrand has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and won an ESPY as his story has inspired not just the handicap community but the entire nation.

He will not only be a speaker on Saturday but also a graduate. He tells Metro the idea of speaking at his graduation has been in the back of his mind “as a possibility ever since I got injured.”

It is also a relief for the player whose No. 52 is retired and hangs above the football stadium.

On Monday, LeGrand took to Twitter to let the world know the offer to speak had been rescinded by the university. Barchi drew criticism for the withdrawal of the offer to LeGrand and in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon said, “We have resolved that miscommunication and are delighted to have him participate.”

After the offer was made over the weekend LeGrand began to think about what he wanted to say to his fellow members of the graduating class.

“I started to think about it, and then I thought about it all weekend long,” LeGrand said. “Then I heard about the decision and I was a little upset. A lot of people had heard about it, and a lot of people questioned why I wasn’t speaking anymore.”

As far as his role at graduation, he doesn’t know if he or Kean will speak first or what the time frame will be for his remarks.

While he’s begun to prepare for what he promises to be “the best speech I’ve ever made” he also won’t prepare notes or an outline for it. The remarks, he says “will come from my heart as they always do.”

“I want them to know to appreciate their life, where they’ve come and where they’re going. If you work hard, you can overcome things,” LeGrand said. “It’s not an easy world out there — things are tough — but we all have to work hard and always keep working hard to achieve our goals.”

Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…