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On Monday, LeGrand took to Twitter to let the world know the offer to speak had been rescinded by the university.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
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…