Steve Gleason Blocked Punt Statue
The bronze statue features the former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason stretching out to successfully block a punt by former Atlanta Falcons punter Michael Koenen on September 25, 2006 during a Monday Night Football game. The statue is a tribute to both the reopening of the Mercedes Benz Superdome just over one year removed from the devastation by Hurricane Katrina and the career and lifetime accomplishments of Gleason.
Backstory and Context
Stephen Michael Gleason was born on March 19, 1977 and is a former professional American football player who played as a safety with the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League. Originally signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2000, he played for the Saints through the 2007 season. Gleason was a free agent in 2008 and ended up retiring from the NFL after eight seasons.
According to Gleason, the statue is not just about football. The statue is "a symbol of the commitment and perseverance that this community took on before that game." With 75,000 people packed into the Mercedes Benz Superdome, Gleason blocked the punt resulting in the ball going into the endzone for a Saints touchdown. The Saints went on to win this game with a score of 23-3. Gleason describes the block as a "rebirth" to a city that was devistated just a year ago.
Since then, Steve has been diagnosed with ALS disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This terminal condition causes gradual paralysis. Gleason, once a fearless special teams standout who never shied away from bone-rattling collisions with players much bigger than him, now gets around on a motorized wheel chair. Although not on the team anymore, Steve will forever be a part of the Saints team.
Now, with the help of family and friends, Steve has started the Team Gleason Foundation. The Team Gleason Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for those living with ALS through means such as technology. "I’ve partnered with Microsoft to develop a program where people like me can drive with our eyes, and next I’ll be working with them and Johns Hopkins to explore ways we can play musical instruments. I can control everything in our house: TVs, doors, lights, the thermostat."Unfortunately, there is no cure yet for ALS.
Steve Gleason ALS Disease. Accessed Jul 6, 2017. http://www.teamgleason.org.
Triplett, Mike. Sean Payton gets choked up, gets grief from Steve Gleason at 'Gleason' premiere. ESPN. Jun. 25, 2016. Accessed Jul. 6, 2017. http://www.espn.com/blog/new-orleans-saints/post/_/id/22284/sean-payton-gets-choked-up-gets-grief-from-steve-gleason-at-gleason-premiere.
King, Peter. Let’s Get Real ... and Then Talk About Draft Charades. Monday Morning Quarterback. Apr. 28, 2014. Accessed Jul. 6, 2017. http://mmqb.si.com/2014/04/28/steve-gleason-tom-benson-saints-nfl-draft.