An innocent comment during a radio interview landed Eric LeGrand two Super Bowl tickets and a dream come true for the lifelong Denver Broncos fan.
LeGrand, the former Rutgers star defensive lineman from Avenel, N.J., was paralyzed on Oct. 16, 2010 in a collision with an Army football player. Since that injury, he has become a nationally recognized speaker and media personality and he made an appearance earlier this week on a Sirius XM show hosted by Gil Brandt. The former Cowboys executive went through the standard radio interview questions with LeGrand, asking about the Super Bowl to his continued progress in rehabilitating from the injury.
But when LeGrand said he was still looking for tickets to root on his Broncos on Sunday night, Brandt dropped a bombshell with little hesitation.
“It was towards the end of the interview when I brought it up, that I was looking for tickets,” LeGrand told Metro. “He then said, ‘I will make sure that the NFL gets you tickets.’ I had never met him before. I was floored. I didn’t know what to say.
“It is a dream come true. The Super Bowl being played in my state, with my team in it. I can’t describe it.”
Brandt had access to two tickets and after meeting LeGrand for the first time this week, walked away impressed.
“It is almost unbelievable that a person who suffered a catastrophic injury like that is so upbeat,” Brandt told Metro. “This guy is talking about raising $90,000 to get a machine to help others suffering from similar injuries. He was focused on being positive, helping others. Not himself.”
There are no tickets in his possession yet, as they will be arriving in the mail, LeGrand said. He admits he will probably stare at them “for a little bit when they come to my house.” In all likelihood, he will bring his mother to the game as his guest, even though she isn’t a Broncos fan. She likes both quarterbacks in Sunday’s game, but LeGrand hopes she will be cheering for the Broncos.
While he will be mile high to see his team, he is ready for what will surely be an emotional event.
The site of Sunday’s game, after all, is the same field where he saw his playing career end. The 25-yard line on the northwestern side of MetLife Stadium is where he laid motionless for minutes. It was there that he took his last steps and made his last hit on the football field.
He has been to MetLife Stadium since then but as he sits on Sunday watching the Super Bowl, he knows there will be a moment where he will glance from his wheelchair toward the spot on the field where everything became different.
“My heart drops every time I look at that spot on the field,” LeGrand said. “That’s where my life was changed forever.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.