Steve Gleason returns to the Superdome today as a ceremonial team captain. Today is the 5-year anniversary of Gleason’s punt block that welcomed the NFL back to New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. What people probably don’t know is that Gleason is suffering from ALS. From The Times Picayune:
ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a devastatingly cruel disease. Gradually, motor neurons shut down. As they do, muscles atrophy. Although Gleason’s brain remains sharp, he is steadily losing his ability to walk, talk and swallow. The powerful legs he once used to race downfield on kickoffs are now withering and unstable. The arms he famously extended to block Michael Koenen’s punt are weak and frail.
Gleason played 8 seasons in the NFL with the Saints from 2000 to 2007. I suggest you head over to the Times-Picayune and read the entire feature on Gleason, ALS and what he meant to the city of New Orleans. Gleason is one of those guys whose story is bigger than the sport he played.