It was announced on Tuesday that Adam Taliaferro of Penn State and Eric LeGrand of Rutgers will serve as honorary game captains, when their alma maters meet September 13th in Piscataway, New Jersey.
The former players, both of whom suffered career ending spinal cord injuries on the football field, will be on the field together for the pregame coin toss.
The two players share a similar story as both were injured when making a routine tackle. Taliaferro suffered a spinal cord injury during a game at Ohio State in September of 2000. Taliaferro became paralyzed when he ruptured his 5th cervical vertebrae and bruised his spinal cord. Given less than a 3 percent chance to ever walk again, he defined the odds and became an inspiration to LeGrand.
LeGrand suffered his career ending injury against Navy in October of 2010 when making a special teams tackle. He became paralyzed from the neck down and bound to a motorized wheelchair when he fractured C-3 and C-4 in his neck. It was soon after his injury that LeGrand first met Taliaferro when Adam made a visit to Eric in the hospital.
“It’s going to be pretty cool,” said LeGrand in the press release. “Adam is a role model for me. From meeting him for the first time, seeing him on his feet again when doctors told him he’d never be on his feet, he has really pushed me during my recovery.”
Taliaferro echoed those sentiments as he said, “For me, it’s an absolute honor to share this with Eric. He has inspired me ever since his injury and continues to do so each and every day.” Taliaferro continues to be one of the biggest believers in the fact that LeGrand will overcome this challenge and get up and walk again someday.
As if this game needed more hype, it’ll be a great way to honor two people who mean so much to not only one another, but also their university and fan bases. This is just another way to add to an already electric atmosphere, as Penn State welcomes Rutgers to the Big Ten with their first ever Big Ten conference game.