Graduation is rapidly approaching for colleges all across the country and some are still scrambling to find an extra special speaker to whisk the soon-to-be ex-students off into the harsh realm of adulthood and personal responsibility. Rutgers found itself without a speaker at the last minute and actually made a very inspiring choice when they asked Rutgers football legend Eric LeGrand to speak but some miscommunication created a bit of controversy when they rescinded the invitation.
Let’s start at the beginning. Rutgers originally invited former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to deliver a speech for their graduates but some students staged protests over the school’s choice and Rice decided to back out just a few weeks before graduation due to the backlash. So Rutgers had to find someone important to speak to the graduating class or forever implant a memory of disappointment in the grads’ minds. Last Saturday, they put in a call to Le Grand and asked if he would like to speak at their graduation. LeGrand, for those who don’t know his story, played defensive tackle for Rutgers’s football team and suffered a severe spinal injury while making a tackle that paralyzed him and ended his football career. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him anyway as a symbolic draft pick before he officially retired from football to free up his spot for another player and finish his college coursework.
It sounded like Rutgers made an even better and more memorable choice for its speaker until they rescinded the invitation. LeGrand said he received a call from the school informing him that their other first choice former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean accepted the invitation and his would no longer be needed. Another round of backlash ensued over Rutgers’s snubbing of LeGrand until a spokesperson for the college said that there was a communication error and that LeGrand will be the official speaker for the graduating class on May 18th. If it were up to us, we would have just picked LeGrand from the very beginning and avoided this entire, unnecessary mess. We wish we had someone as inspiring as him at our graduation ceremony.