Paralyzed ex-Rutgers player Eric LeGrand visits Patriots-Saints joint practice

ByMike Reiss and Mike Triplett ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After their second straight day of practicing together, the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints gathered in one large huddle after practice to hear an inspirational message from Eric LeGrand, the former Rutgers football player who was paralyzed in a 2010 game.

In addition to LeGrand, players heard from Boston Marathon bombing survivor Celeste Corcoran and double-amputee marathoner Jami Goldman Marseilles.

"The message was to look at every obstacle as an opportunity, and to not let whatever problem you're dealing with conquer you. You conquer the problem or situation," Patriots rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell said.

The words seemed to resonate with players from both teams.

Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux, who made his own remarkable comeback last year, nine years after breaking his neck on the field in high school, tweeted a photo of himself with LeGrand and said, "Finally got to meet my inspiration."

LeGrand later spent time with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, taking photos with the team's four Lombardi trophies.

Mitchell, the Patriots' fourth-round draft choice from the University of Georgia, said the message from all three was powerful.

"When you're a player, on the outside looking in and you see these people overcoming catastrophic injuries or situations, it kind of motivates you to keep pushing because what you're going through has nothing on what they've been through," he said.

"Every day you have to strive to be your best because you never know when that day will come to an end. Also, I received the message that regardless of what you're going through, you can overcome it."