Jets linebacker Bart Scott ended his infamous on-camera interview with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, who was signing off with the words "See you next week in Pittsburgh" to which Scott jumped in, exclaiming "Can't Wait!" The Jets lost the AFC Championship Game that next Sunday, but now Scott is looking forward to something else.
|Jets linebacker Bart Scott is no stranger to helping those with physical needs. (Stew Milne/US Presswire)|
He can't wait to see Rutgers linebacker Eric LeGrand walk again.
LeGrand is the Scarlet Knights player who was paralyzed on Oct. 16, 2010 during a collision with an Army football player on a kickoff. The story of LeGrand, the team's emotional leader during the past three seasons, has touched lives across the country. Le Grand is back in classes at Rutgers though he is limited to a wheelchair, and he vows to walk again.
Perhaps it is the passion for the game that runs through LeGrand that Scott can associate with, but perhaps it is something deeper. Scott is set to launch his line of "Can't Wait" clothing, the catch phrase he trademarked this offseason, and he's donating the proceeds to the "LeGrand Believe Fund."
"I've never met him but I heard he's a great kid," Scott told NFL.com. "He has a lot of concerns and needs right now, but I know someday he will walk, and that's something I can't wait for."
There is a clear connection between the two players.
LeGrand, a linebacker with the Scarlet Knights, was a passionate and fiery leader for the program on and off the field. He now lives in a small central New Jersey town, about 20 miles from the TEST Sports Club where Scott and several Jets teammates train four days a week as they wait for the NFL lockout end.
The rollout of the clothing line will come in the next few weeks and include three original designs. Scott said he anticipates 1,200 shirts being produced in the first batch for distribution.
"All the proceeds from the first run will go to LeGrand to help him," Scott said. "I want to do something for him, to help him. I hope we'll sell out the shirts quickly so we can get the money to him because things are expensive with his care, and I know there are money needs. For instance, he needs to refit the doors at his house for his wheelchair."
Scott is the latest athlete to lend a helping hand to LeGrand. Former Nets point guard Devin Harris helped raise $75,000 dollars along with his NBA teammates and former Giants wide receiver David Tyree ran the Tough Mudder obstacle race to raise funds for LeGrand.
But for Scott, unlike the other athletes, the story of LeGrand is something that hits home. In every way, LeGrand's courage and perseverance is a personal narrative the Jets linebacker has seen unfold in his own life.
Four years ago, Scott's cousin Jeffrey Pippen was paralyzed after being shot in a Detroit area bar in what was termed a random shooting. Scott has helped Pippen out in multiple ways to regain some sense of a normal life, including getting his cousin a car specifically designed for a paraplegic with brake and gas controls at hand level.
Scott continues to help Pippen as needs arise, and he has developed a great passion for helping paraplegics.
It's a softer side of a player who plays with a distinctive edge on the field. Scott earned his reputation as a hard-hitting, aggressive linebacker with a penchant for trash-talking while with the Ravens. In Baltimore, Scott would visit local hospitals to spend time with those who lost the use of some of their limbs, often times bringing donations of the Wii gaming system to their recovery wards.
"It actually helps them with their rehab," Scott said. "They're using their motor skills and coordination without even thinking that they're rehabbing. They're doing work but having fun and helping to regain life skills without even knowing it."
All of which leads Scott to want to make an impact on LeGrand, who grew up idolizing his former teammate in Baltimore, fellow linebacker Ray Lewis. The "Can't Wait" shirts are a step toward helping LeGrand take his first step someday.
"I want to be able to see him lead his team on the field someday," Scott said. "That's something I'm looking forward to and I just hope to help him get there."