Gleason's punt block memorialized outside Superdome

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 27, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 27 at 6:50 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

It's called the "Rebirth" statue; it's a replica of the moment when Steve Gleason blocked a punt in 2006, and re-energized the city after Hurricane Katrina.

Friday, Saints players honored their former team mate at the statue unveiling, as he battles ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The thunderstorm couldn't dampen the spirits of hundred's who came to see the new statue outside of the Dome. The Saints team in their 'No White Flags' t-shirts, along with family and friends, were there to honor former team mate Steve Gleason for his famous play.

"This statue, as I told the people at the NFL this morning, symbolizes the rebirth of our city," said Saints team owner Tom Benson.

"When they talk about New Orleans, they talk about resilience. They talk about resurrection. They talk about redemption," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu about the city being rated by Forbes as a top place to do business.

They remembered how the blocked Falcon punt resuscitated our post Katrina broken hearts, but they also honored Gleason's heroic actions off of the field.

"This statue is going to be great, but this statue doesn't even compare to the man right here," said Saints interim coach Joe Vitt to a cheering audience.

"The things that you do for yourself, only stay with you. But the things that you do for others, live forever," said Saint quarterback Drew Brees about his friend Gleason.

Steve Gleason opened up with a little humor saying, 'The last time somebody unveiled a 9-foot-statue of me was never.' But the he quickly got serious and said this statue is really about the entire New Orleans community.

"That statue is not about football. That statue is a symbol, is a symbol, of the commitment and perseverance that this community took on before that game," said Gleason.

He invited others with ALS to be there, because Team Gleason's mission now is about changing the world through research, scientific discoveries, and technology, so his voice can still be heard.

"When ALS is more known to the common person, I think it will be a great thing," said his wife Michel

When asked what is keeping the family busy she said, "Mostly the Team Gleason stuff. We're doing, we're sending patients on these awesome adventures and raising awareness. And getting up after the morning is always a little bit rough, but after we kind of get into our mission, we're always doing great."  

Michel said the world is watching and wants to know what Steve has been doing since his famous play. She said that while his voice is fading and getting weak, she is happy that technology has recorded his voice so he can "speak."

"It feels really good to know that we'll always hear from him. We actually just, we did a rap song 'Baby Got Back' and it's hilarious and we're going to have a lot of fun with it."

The sculptor, Brian Hanlon, said he has never seen a sculpture in another stadium that represents a moment in time, as the one of Steve Gleason does.

Click here for a story on how technology is helping save, and use Steve Gleason's voice before he can no longer talk.

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