Gadson is a hero to a lot of people, even the heroes we watch on television every Sunday. Gadson has been named an honorary Giants captain for the NFC championship game Sunday against the Packers in Green Bay.
"Lt. Colonel Greg Gadson... is a real hero. There is a real man," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. "His sacrifice, what he has done in his young life so that we all are able to sleep under the blanket of freedom is an incredible testimony to the quality of man that he is and his belief in the values that we all aspire to believe in."
Coughlin added: "The only reason (Gadson) wasn't in Dallas was because he had surgery. It's a tremendous opportunity for us to thank him, first of all, and I think it's good for America. Really what's important is that we honor someone like Lt. Colonel Greg Gadson. Every player on this team is touched by that guy."
Gadson was a three-year starter at linebacker for Army and his former teammate, Mike Sullivan, now the wide receivers coach for the Giants, introduced him to the team. The pair have remained close and Sullivan visited Gadson at Walter Reed Army Hospital just outside of Washington in June.
Sullivan was taken aback by Gadson's upbeat attitude and determination in the face and told his old West Point pal he wanted him to attend the game when the Giants visited the Redskins. As the game neared, Sullivan told Coughlin Gadson's story. The coach arranged for Gadson to speak to the then 0-2 Giants the night before they played the Redskins in D.C. Gadson talked for 15 minutes and received a standing ovation when he was finished.
The day after Gadson spoke to the team, Plaxico Burress scored a touchdown and handed the ball to Gadson, sitting in his wheelchair on the sideline. The Giants trailed at halftime, 17-3, but rallied for a 24-17 victory that turned around their season.
"It's overwhelming and I'm completely honored that they felt that way about me," Gadson said. "I certainly feel that way about them. It's really been a unique experience. Eight months ago I never would have imagined that my life would have been turned upside down and I'd have these things happen to me. I'm just fighting to get it back together again. Here I am now going out as an honorary captain for the New York Giants. I don't know that you ever have dreams like that. So I'm really very honored and very flattered."
Gadson, 41, also suffered less severe injuries in Iraq. He attended the Giants' wildcard playoff game in Tampa Bay two weeks ago and would have been in Dallas last week, but had surgery on his arm. He is learning to use prosthetic legs. But as much as he's looking forward to Sunday, he would return to the battlefield in a heartbeat if he could. "The opposite side of the coin is I could be in Iraq leading my soldiers," Gadson said. "Honestly, as special as this is, that's where I want to be first. I could also be dead, because I almost died. But I'm thankful I'm alive and having a chance to participate in this."