Adam Taliaferro plans to do everything he can to provide emotional and even financial support for paralyzed Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, and Joe Paterno already has given advice to Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano about how to help the young man.
"I want to be there to kind of help guide him through this early process," Taliaferro, the former Penn State player who overcame a serious spinal injury to walk again, said Tuesday in an interview with ESPN.
LeGrand, a junior defensive tackle, was injured making a special teams tackle Saturday against Army. He is resting at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Taliaferro, who suffered his injury 10 years ago and has become a role model for paralyzed athletes, has yet to speak with LeGrand but hopes to later this week.
"I'm gonna tell him this is more mental than physical," Taliaferro said. "The physical part is really out of his control right now. ... Now we're just playing the waiting game. So what you really need to do now is just work on overcoming this mentally, coming to the realization that this did happen, that you're gonna have to do everything you can do to get out of it.
"You can only say 'Why me?' for so long. You've got to get to the point where you say, 'You know what, this happened, how am I gonna get out of it?'"
Schiano called Paterno on Saturday to seek advice on how a coach can best handle this kind of situation. Schiano also spoke with Penn State team physician Wayne Sebastianelli.
"I gave [Schiano] a positive part of what might happen, but each one of those things are different, and it will be tough," Paterno said Tuesday. "It will be tough for him and the team no matter how you twist it. I just tried to encourage him and tell them to hang in there."
Taliaferro has spoken numerous times about how much the support of Paterno and his Penn State teammates meant to him during his recovery. JoePa and some players frequently visited him in the hospital, and he advised Rutgers' players to do the same for LeGrand.
"He's still part of the team," Taliaferro said. "He's still the same Eric. His brain is intact, his personality is still gonna be there. Just make sure he stays involved with the football team throughout the rest of the season."
Taliaferro also said it's important to keep LeGrand's spirits up with positive reinforcement.
"Throughout the entire process, my parents shielded me from all negative news," Taliaferro said. "So the doctors told my parents, but I never knew it. I think that's important. I want everyone to know that Eric's going to have a lot of negative news, and we don't want him hearing too much of it.
"The main thing is to try to keep him as positive as possible and have him in the right mindframe to go forward in his therapy. ... As positive as we can keep him, the better he's gonna be when he gets to therapy."
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.