Looking back on it now, the 2001-2002 New England Patriots team was full of guys that most NFL fans probably wouldn’t even recognize if they sat next to them at Panera, but instantly became New England legends for clutch plays and doing their job in one of the most improbable playoff runs in NFL history. You know them all now. Ty Law, picking off Kurt Warner in the Super Bowl. Lawyer Milloy icing the AFC Championship with a pickoff of Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart. Adam Vinatieri, drilling kick after kick, with each one seeming more impossible than the last. That Tom Brady guy, too. Plus, in the months following the 9/11 attacks, pulling for the underdogs wearing American colors just felt right.
Steve Gleason is one of those guys for the New Orleans Saints. After Hurricane Katrina flooded over 80% of New Orleans in 2005, the Saints returned to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for their first home game since the disaster. Early in the first quarter, the Falcons lined up for a textbook punt on 4th and 10, only an undrafted heat-seeking missile named Steve Gleason flew up the middle of the formation, swatted the punt, and the Saints cornerback Curtis DeLoatch scooped up the loose ball for a Saints touchdown that fired up the entire Superdome.
Fast forward a few years, and Gleason revealed that he was battling ALS in 2011. A documentary film, titled simply "Gleason", came out a couple weeks ago, and the Patriots hosted a showing at Patriot Place on Wednesday for current and former Pats players, as well as some fans.
The Saints appreciated the gesture:
And former Patriots linebacker and special-teams player Matt Chatham had his mind blown:
1. 1st, some background. @TeamGleason is known most outside NO for blocked punt after Katrina. To ST guys, he was much mo' than that play— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) August 11, 2016
3. Much like players stop & watch R Moss run go routes, SG was 1 of those guys who everyone spot-shadowed covering kicks. Tasmanian devil— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) August 11, 2016
5. Many around know of @TeamGleason 's story to certain degree. Has ALS. Battling it. Inspiring guy. But this movie reveals SO much more— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) August 11, 2016
Chatham also made sure everyone knew the movie isn’t a pity-party – it’s a movie that, apparently, will make you think and feel like you can bench press a car at the same time.
7. This isn't a sad movie about a sick guy, altho ALS battle is central. This is an inspirational flick that makes u rethink life altogether— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) August 11, 2016
Gleason’s been doing tons of work to raise awareness and money for ALS research and searching for a cure, and although the disease has taken away his mobility and decimated his body, one thing that’s still razor-sharp is his sense of humor.
I'm a sit down comedian.— Steve Gleason (@TeamGleason) July 28, 2016
Between this, a powerful speech from paralyzed Rutgers player Eric LeGrand yesterday, and watching Nate Ebnerscore tries and wreck fools in Olympic rugby sevens this week, the Patriots should be as motivated as all get out and ready to roll.
Best wishes to Steve and his family.