Steve Gleason, the New Orleans Saints’ former special teams ace who has become one of the most recognizable faces in the fight against ALS, has won the George Halas Award.
The honor, announced Monday and given annually by the Pro Football Writers of America, goes to the NFL figure who overcomes adversity to succeed.
Fans in New Orleans are familiar with the story of Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 and responded by forming Team Gleason, an organization dedicated to the fight against the neuromuscular disorder. Team Gleason has focused its efforts not only on finding a cure for the disease but also on helping those afflicted with the disease combat their symptoms.
In April, the U.S. Senate passed the Steve Gleason Act, which will make speech-generating devices available to patients through Medicare and Medicaid. The bill must still pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law.
Gleason, whose blocked punt in the Saints’ return to the Superdome in 2006 has become one of the franchise’s signature moments, is the third Saints player to receive the award, joining Tom Dempsey in 1972 and Drew Brees in 2007.
The Saints will hold minicamp this week, and all sessions are free and open to the public.
The practices are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with all three sessions running from 11 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. at the team’s headquarters on Airline Drive in Metairie.
Gates will open to fans 45 minutes before each practice. Parking is available in the Zephyr Field parking lot.
Fans are advised to arrive early enough to go through a security check. Video cameras, oversized handbags, food, drinks and pets not allowed to be brought inside the gates. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.
The practices will be closed to public if moved inside because of inclement weather. Visit NewOrleansSaints.com for updates.
An incomplete report
The Advocate obtained the Gainesville (Florida) Police reports referenced by ESPN as part of its investigation into the culture of college football programs, including at the University of Florida.
The ESPN report referenced two incidents involving Saints linebacker Ronald Powell that did not lead to arrests.
In one incident, which occurred in October 2012, Powell allegedly threatened the owner of a furniture store, Gregory Cristel, for not giving him free items.
The police report added further context. Powell said he purchased two beds, put down a deposit and was promised free rails to go with the bed. Cristel did not write it down on the receipt, and Powell became upset when Cristel refused to honor the agreement and began yelling at him, according to the police report.
When police arrived, Powell was asked to leave and did so without incident, according to the police report.
In a separate incident detailed by ESPN, which occurred in July 2014, Powell was pulled over by police for a lane violation while driving a rental car. When police inspected the car, “very small pieces” of a white substance were found on the driver’s seat, according to the police report. The substance tested positive as cocaine.
The ESPN report stated the address on Powell’s driver’s license was for a known drug house. Police let Powell go with a warning for a traffic violation.
What the ESPN report left out is that the driver’s license for another man, who is known to be involved with drugs, also was found in the rental vehicle. Police concluded the other man was likely using the car and the drugs belonged to him.