A symbolic signing, but one that hits extremely close to home for me. I had front row seats to the game he got hurt at. Rutgers vs Army in Metlife Stadium. I had seen a couple other guys get knocked out badly (once in HS, kid was fine other than a severe concussion) and Robert Ferguson for GB when they played Jacksonville and Donovan Darius clotheslined him (again fine). This time it didn't seem so sure that he'd be okay. He was injured making a tackle on a kickoff. I had seats in the end zone in the left corner, the injury happened on the right side. I didn't actually see the hit, but I saw his lifeless body and the players all frantically screaming for help. He wasn't moving. After a few long minutes, the loaded him up on a stretcher and took him out via cart right past me. I got a glimpse of him as he was lying on the cart. There were about 15 doctors and paramedics running alongside the cart. They had him hooked up to oxygen. I had never seen that before, that's when all doubt had left my mind...he was paralyzed. I recall watching Coach Schiano climb into the stands and go find his mother and just hug her. It was one of the saddest things I had ever seen and it's extremely humbling to all involved.
Word spread shortly after the game that he had lost movement from the neck down. The entire Rutgers community was devastated. Tons of benefits were held, bracelets and tee shirts were sold, and the Rutgers community was united behind #52. "bELieve" was common as well as "keep choppin'" subtle reminders to all that football is a fun game, but it has serious life implications. It reminded us all that our head coach truly loved his players and their families. Schiano didn't have to get directed to Eric's mom. He knew where she was sitting and immediately went up when he knew what had happened. This gesture is why I will ALWAYS love coach Schiano and I will never root against the guy. A true, genuine person in the NFL.