Update, 6:30 p.m. ET
Ten months and two days after suffering a severe spinal injury against Army, Rutgers DL Eric LeGrand visited the Jets today and reflected on his good luck.
"This injury is a financially crippling injury and that's why I feel bad for people less fortunate than me," he said. "That's why I want to reach out to them, too, do fundraisers with them so people can have a life and just go out."
LeGrand, who is still in a wheelchair, was invited to practice by Jets linebacker Jamaal Westerman, his former Scarlet Knights teammate.
"Coach Pettine just said let him know when he wants to come out, he's more than welcome," said Westerman. "Just make sure it's a practice where we're having an actual practice — not a walkthrough or anything like that. So I hit him up and let him know whenever he wants to and he said he wanted to come out Thursday. So that's why he's here."
Sporting a "Can't Wait" green T-shirt, LeGrand was thankful that Jets WLB Bart Scott had the catchphrase made into four limited-edition T-shirt designs to help raise money for his pricey medical bills.
"He just told me that he wanted to give all the proceeds of the shirts he just made — all the first batch will come to me and that's truly a blessing, helping my family out and everything," LeGrand told reporters. "It means a lot and I appreciate it."
"I didn't know he was coming out today," Scott said after practice, "but the shirts are pretty much 95 percent sold out. They almost sold out the first week. So we should be able to present something to him in a week or so."
The green and black T-shirts have sold out, but fans can still purchase both the purple and white unchained tees at cantwait57.com.
Scott caught a glimpse of LeGrand at the beginning of practice and that was only after LaDainian Tomlinson made a beeline in his direction.**
"I was in shock. He used to play at San Diego and my favorite team is the Denver Broncos," LeGrand said of the future Hall of Fame back. "I didn't like him back in the day, but finally getting to meet him, I was star-struck."
LeGrand, who hopes to lead Rutgers out of the tunnel eventually, has made immeasurable progress in his recovery. He regained movement and sensation throughout his body in January and began to stand upright and regain movement in his arms in July.
"Everything's going well right now. The longest I've stood up for was 45 minutes," he said. "I just have to keep on standing up for a half an hour so I can get my body on this locomotive treadmill to retrain your legs to walk again."
The 26-year-old Westerman was finishing up his college career when LeGrand was just a wide-eyed freshman. They were both defensive linemen at Rutgers and Westerman was always impressed with the younger LeGrand.
"He was just a good guy. His mom is nice — everybody is nice. We're a family out at Rutgers, so it was hurtful what happened to him," Westerman said. "But to see his recovery and how he's taking it, and how he's taking it with a smile, is very inspiring."
One would think LeGrand has a lot to be mad about. But his focus is on daily improvement and it wouldn't be wise to surmise that the smile means he's content.
"You can't get mad at what happened to you. Things happen," he said. "The only way to get better is to be positive and just fight through it because if you're negative, then things are just going to go right down the drain. It's the only way I know how to do it and just fight through it."
"Inspirational," Scott said about having LeGrand at practice. "He's been so strong through the process. Life always deals us certain things, and it's all about how we choose to deal with it. I think the's embraced it and he took the challenge on. I think he should be an inspiration to a lot of people."
Perspective and inspiration. Eric LeGrand has provided both today and the Jets can't wait to hear about him reaching his ultimate goal.
"One day," Westerman said, "he's going to walk."