PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Paralyzed Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s year-end issue. His return to the field in October was picked as the 2011 Moment of the Year.
For the first time in the magazine’s 57-year history, fans made the choice.
LeGrand garnered the most votes from fans in 178 countries and led more than 6,000 users to post comments on Facebook. The defensive lineman beat out soccer star Lionel Messi, surfer Kelly Slater and New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter.
LeGrand has been undergoing rehabilitation since he was paralyzed from the neck down making a tackle against Army last year.
The cover photograph shows LeGrand in his motorized wheelchair leading his team onto the field against West Virginia. The photo was shot by Associated Press photographer Mel Evans.