During the last off-season of the NFL -- when the players, coaches, owners and fans went through a lockout that lasted 132 days (but which felt longer to me) -- I thought no other off-season would be able to top it. But with terrible deaths, the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and their suspensions, and surprising firings and draft picks, I feel like the 2012-2013 NFL season is years away. However, with all the scandal and disappointments came something really amazing that made me forget about all the drama.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired a new coach that is known for coaching Rutgers University football team, Greg Schiano. While coaching college football, one of his star players -- defensive tackle Eric LeGrand -- suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him. Even though LeGrand will never play football again, he is set to graduate from college next year with a labor degree and hopefully become a well-known sportscaster, which he has already shown that he is great at.
But still, Coach Schiano couldn't help but think that the last draft class was supposed to be Eric's draft class. So what surprised me the most is that coach Schiano gave LeGrand a contract with the Buccaneers. This isn't a normal contract, though. He will not get paid and he is not expected to play or make appearances with the team. He will get a Buccaneers jersey and a helmet, though. What makes it so special is that his contract is an "honorable contract."
With this contract, the Buccaneers want to honor LeGrand's character and spirit during this whole process of getting his life back to normal. Not just that but during the whole thing, LeGrand kept a positive mindset by thinking that if you do the right thing, great things will happen to you. And now, LeGrand will get his chance to live out one of his dreams by becoming a member of the NFL.
I never really paid attention to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for many reasons, but this honorable contract or symbolic contract that they decided to do was really nice. I was shocked when I heard about this because I never heard about a team doing this. I didn't even know it was allowed. I believe, though, this is what the Buccaneers need to start a whole new season. They have a new coach, new players and now this contact to look up to when things get tough. It may even let them win on and off the field now. Because, as Vince Lombardi said, "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?"