From the snap, to the best “thump, thump” ever heard – it was just two seconds. The blink of an eye. A glance at the crowd and it was over – a moment etched in our hearts forever. We weren’t ready for it really. It wasn’t 4th and goal from the one, where we were already on our feet. It caught us by surprise and thus transcended even the limits of our expectations on that play and that night - Sept. 25, 2006.
Two seconds lifted a city and released guttural emotions tucked away in the darkness of our psyche for more than a year.
For me, there’s only one word that truly captures the emotions that came after, the deafening sounds, the precious seconds you hoped would last just a little longer. That word is raw.
It didn’t take Steve Gleason a decade to realize or digest the significance of those two seconds. He knew it immediately. He could almost touch it.
“The people of New Orleans had spent the previous 12 months devastated, frustrated and angry,” Gleason said recently. “This was their chance to release all those emotions and let the world know the city of New Orleans was back.”
Gleason talked about that moment recently in his hometown in Washington, using Microsoft eye-tracking technology to spell words and sentences with the movement of his eyes. It’s been 10 years since his famous block, five years since his diagnosis with AMS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Born and raised on the West Coast, Gleason had spent enough time on the Gulf Coast, including Hurricane Katrina, to absorb what one moment would mean to the locals.
“Because I had been in New Orleans for the previous six seasons, at least to some degree I understood the culture and the mentality of New Orleans,” he said. “I was dating and would later marry into a New Orleans family. I also endured the chaos of the previous 13 months as a result. The significance of the block, even in the moments immediately after the play, was not lost on me.”
Gleason led possibly the loudest pregame “Who Dat” chant ever, on the field of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome back in 2011, the year of his diagnosis. He has inspired us since by living a life without limits, without white flags, and doing so very publicly. His mission isn’t just to live with his wife and watch his son grow up, but to provide those who suffer like him a better quality of life and most importantly push for an answer, a cure. Researchers recently discovered what they believe is a new gene that might be the cause of ALS. It’s a significant discovery, but Gleason says it is still a piece of a very large puzzle.
“In the advancement of more knowledge of the disease is important but thus far only small pieces of a billion piece puzzle,” he said.
In two seconds, ten years ago, he lifted a region. There’s no telling what Steve Gleason can do. But never count him out.
- Special thanks to KREM-TV
(© 2016 WWL)