Photo: HBO Sports
Steve Gleason only started one game in his 7-year NFL career with the New Orleans Saints but is responsible for what some consider the most important play in that franchise’s history.Gleason blocked a punt leading to the Saints’ first touchdown in the their first game back at the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina.
But three years after he last played in the NFL, Gleason was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that hits former NFL players at a higher rate and at younger ages.
HBO’s “Real Sports” caught up with Gleason and talked to him about the disease and how it is affecting his life.
On the next few pages, we’ll take a look at some of the more jarring images…
Most of that time was spent on special teams, where many of football's most violent collisions occur
A large number of former NFL players have been stricken with ALS at younger ages than most people, like former Raider Steve Smith who couldn't move at the age of 45
The Saints bounty-gate tapes, in which other players were targeted for injury, only came out because Gleason was visiting the team and a filmmaker documenting Gleason was in the room
Gleason is now fighting the disease, including to help build a care facility for other ALS victims in New Orleans
Hopefully the NFL will continue to curb violent collisions as long as there is a chance it will mean fewer cases like Gleason
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