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On Monday, LeGrand took to Twitter to let the world know the offer to speak had been rescinded by the university.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


Interfaith leaders denounce anti-Muslim harassment in Brooklyn

Community leaders of all faiths gathered in Brooklyn on Tuesday to push back on what they described as hateful acts against the local Muslim community.


Parched Texas town turns to sewage water to…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - When the going got tough due one of with worst droughts in a century, the parched Texas city of Wichita…


NYPD: Robber makes elderly man drive to Queens…

A robber grabbed an elderly man's neck outside a Queens supermarket, stole his wallet and made him drive to ATMs for withdrawals last week, police said.


Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.


'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.


PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.


Theater: “Love and Human Remains” is like a…

"Love and Human Remains" is the worst show we've ever not walked out of.


Review: 'A Most Wanted Man' works better when…

In one of his last roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman headlines the John Le Carre adaptation of "A Most Wanted Man," about the pursuit of a Chechen refugee.


MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack


2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?


5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.


'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.


5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.


Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…


Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.


Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.