Eric LeGrand, Rutgers Athletics announce multi-year partnership with alum’s bourbon brand

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: Eric LeGrand speaks onstage during the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Gala, A Magical Evening 2022 at Cipriani South Street on November 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: Eric LeGrand speaks onstage during the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Gala, A Magical Evening 2022 at Cipriani South Street on November 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation) /

Eric LeGrand spoke to FanSided on behalf of Eric LeGrand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, the first spirits brand to have a partnership with Rutgers Athletics. Eric LeGrand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will be available at select hospitality areas at SHI Stadium and Jersey Mike’s Arena.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights football season opener is approaching that much closer. After finishing 4-8 and missing out on a bowl game last season, the program will look to bounce back in head coach Greg Schiano’s fourth season of his second tenure with the university. The season officially begins on Saturday, Sept. 3, at SHI Stadium. Ahead of the game, Rutgers announced a huge partnership with one of their former players, Eric LeGrand.

Back on Oct. 16, 2010, LeGrand suffered a spinal cord injury during Rutgers’ game against Army, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

On July 11, Rutgers Athletics announced a multi-year partnership with Eric LeGrand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This will be Rutgers’ first partnership with a spirits brand and will be served to adult attendees at the hospitality areas of SHI Stadium and Jersey Mike’s Arena.

FanSided interviewed LeGrand following this announcement, and the former player discussed his multi-year partnership with his alma mater.

"“Honestly, it’s amazing, you know, everything that the university has done for me, over the years being a part of the university as alumni, and as a former athlete there, and obviously, the support that came after my injury, there was no one better than to launch at that than with Rutgers University,” said LeGrand. “I know, we’re the first ones to break into this category with the spirits, so that’s even more special to me, that we’re breaking down barriers and breaking down, you know, maybe the way that people may look at partnerships when it comes to the spirits business. And I’m glad to be tied that Eric LeGrand Whiskey can always be the first one that did it.”"

Rutgers announces multi-year spirits brand partnership with former player Eric LeGrand

Eric LeGrand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey first launched this past March, as the former defensive tackle teamed up with spirits entrepreneur Brian Axelrod. With every case of LeGrand Bourbon, $5.20 will be donated to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, a charitable organization that helps those dealing with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury.

"“Well, Brian, you know, a guy goes back almost 10 years now as friends, working on a few different initiatives, over the years, for helping with my charity team, Team LeGrand, and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation,” said LeGrand. “So about two years ago, I had approached him about creating my own spirits company, and I remember he slept on the idea, and he came back to me the next day, and thought it was just a great idea for something that’s different. It’s more of a passion project. Because we have a purpose behind everything that we do. And obviously, yes, we want to be able to get the great liquid and great juice out there for people to enjoy bourbon, but we also want to be able to raise funds for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, as well. So it was just kind of like a no brainer, we really put our heads together and came up with the idea on launching it together as something that we wanted to always do.”"

LeGrand further expanded on his work with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. The charitable organization first came to be back in 1982 led by the father of a New Jersey teenager, Henry Stifel, who was diagnosed with quadriplegia after a car crash. First known as the Stifel Paralysis Research Foundation, it later merged with the American Paralysis Association (APA). After actor Christopher Reeve was diagnosed with quadriplegia in 1995 following a horse riding accident, he sought out the APA and worked alongside them. In 1999, Reeve’s Foundation and the APA merged.

Team LeGrand is a fundraising arm for the charitable organization, which will “help individuals living with spinal cord injury and their families by supporting quality of life initiatives and emerging therapies” to find cures for spinal cord injuries.

When diagnosed with his injury, LeGrand said that the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation was there for him from the start.

"“They reached out to me from day one, honestly after my injury, just offering up their support and the educational opportunities that we may need and beginning with my mom, and what to look out for and just to be there for us when it just comes in navigating this new life with a spinal cord injury. To then have two years into my injury, so many people asking how can they help me, talked with my mom about forming my partnership with them, and we became a fundraising branch off of them in the fall of 2013, and this year will be 10 years, and I’m proud to say that we’ve raised over $2 million since our inception, with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation through Team LeGrand. So it’s been a lot of fun. You know, there’s ups and downs along the journey, but at the end of the day, the cause is the cause, and that’s to find a cure for paralysis.”"

LeGrand has been working and recovering since his injury over 13 years ago. In fact, he has regained movement in his shoulders since. LeGrand discussed his rehabilitation process over the years, including what it was like during the COVID-19 pandemic back in 2020.

"“It’s a grind, you know, I’m still working with a therapist that comes to my house, you know, once a week and you know, I was doing inpatient rehab for five months, and then outpatient rehab has done has just never stopped doing rehab, even during a pandemic. I wasn’t doing it with my physical therapists, occupational therapist, I was doing it with my mom and my nurse,” said LeGrand. “So it’s been a journey since the day of my injury. And progress has been obviously very good for me from the original prognosis of my injury and what the doctor diagnosed and whatnot. But now to be where I am today, I just, I always tell people, I work out and keep my body just strong and healthy. So that day, when we find a cure, I’ll be strong enough and healthy enough and be ready for it.”"

LeGrand has his own coffee shop in Woodbridge, N.J. called “LeGrand Coffee House.” In the past year, LeGrand also launched a partnership with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils during the 2022-23 season as part of their Buy Black program, which helped black-owned businesses in the state. The Devils wore the LeGrand Coffee House logo on their helmets for road games during the 2022-23 season.

"“I’m happy that, you know, I won that partnership because you got to see the other LeGrand Coffeehouse logo on the Devils’ helmet for all their way games this year and in the playoffs, and they had their best season that they’ve ever had in a regular season with 52 wins, which is my number 52 which is crazy how that all worked out,” said LeGrand. “But to just see how it’s sold down at the Prudential Center, the coffee. People have game day traditions where they stop by the coffee shop before they head up to the Prudential Center. It’s honestly been a dream partnership and I’m so happy to be tied in with them even though that the season is over. I’m still a part of their their organization still got up there to speak they’re still selling the coffee there, and hopefully one day the whiskey.”"

Rutgers football opens up the season at home against the Northwestern Wildcats.

Below is additional information on Erick LeGrand Bourbon, via the official press release:

Eric LeGrand Bourbon is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon, distilled in Owensboro, Kentucky, and bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky. The liquid is created with quality heartland grown corn, limestone purified water, the freshest rye and barley available. Aged no less than two years in perfectly charred oak barrels, this premier whiskey boasts a warm nose and a smooth crisp finish. Eric LeGrand Bourbon is now available for purchase (750ML bottles) in the state of New Jersey (distributed by Allied Beverage Group) and Kentucky, with additional states to follow. Bottles can also be purchased via

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