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Steve Gleason Looks Back on his New Orleans Saints Career

In addition to Deuce McAllister, Steve Gleason is also participating in the "10 Years Stronger" program. Gleason, responsible for one of the most well remembered plays in Saints' history, recently interviewed on his place in Saints' lore and what it means to him.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

A play even more well-remembered than either of Tracy Porter's interceptions, Steve Gleason's blocked punt resounds in the Superdome even today.  10 years after Hurricane Katrina, Gleason still remembers the effect that the storm had on the city that houses the team that he played for.


Kevin Skiver: How does it feel to be the primary component of what is considered by many to be the biggest (if not most uplifting) play in New Orleans Saints history?

Steve Gleason: It is my honor to be a symbol of New Orleans’ rebirth. The people of New Orleans, and this region, are enduring, tenacious, long suffering, and eternally resilient. They celebrate their tragedies, sanctify their imperfections, protect what they love, and love wholeheartedly. I’ll stand, (or sit) in that number every time.


KS: Are you often reminded of the blocked punt in strange ways?

SG: Well, there's a 9 foot statue of the punt block outside the Superdome, so that's always a strange reminder. In public, I am fairly conspicuous, so its very common to have people come up and describe where they were as I blocked the punt.


KS: Is it odd to you that it is often considered a bigger play in Saints' history than their Super Bowl win?

SG: In the best of times, similar to music or any other art form, sports bring the local community together in celebration and fellowship. I see the timeline from the punt block to the Superbowl win, as an extraordinary consecration for this region, as we pieced our city, our team, and our hearts back together.


KS: To you, what play that is nominated in the 10 Years Stronger program (besides your own) is the most deserving of its nomination and why?

SG: It's hard for me to pick a single play. They're all incredible. The two that stand out, in my mind, are these: Deuce bulldozing the entire Eagles defense to propel us to the NFC championship in 2006. Garrett Hartley sending us to the Superbowl with his field goal in 2009.


KS: What is your favorite memory of returning to New Orleans?

SG: I remember making the roster when the team made the final cut in 2006.  Michel’s parents were living in a temporary 500 sq. ft. duplex, while they rebuilt their house, which had 10 feet of water during Katrina. I got a text from Greg Bensel, the Saints PR director, that I was on the the roster. Michel, her parents, and I stood in their tiny kitchen, and screamed and danced and hugged each other. I remember calling my family, then we went to Bruno's, a local sports tavern, for a much needed beer.


KS: Having been on the team before, during and after Katrina, how did it affect you?

SG: Because I had been in New Orleans for the previous six seasons, at least to some degree, I understood the culture & mentality of New Orleans. I was dating & 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.


KS: What is your best memory of the 2006 playoff run for the Saints?  Why is it your favorite?

SG: No doubt about it, Deuce carrying all 11 Philadelphia Eagles, like a superhero, into the endzone, is my fondest memory of that playoff run.


KS: How does the implementation of the 10 Years Stronger initiative highlight the connection between the Saints and their fans?  Is there another team that is so intrinsically tied to its community?

SG: If you haven't lived here or played for this organization, it really is the impossible explanation. Some sports cities treat their athletes like heroes or rock stars. Some cities have so much else going on, there is ambivalence towards their athletes. New Orleans treats their Saints like their own sons. Is there another team in sports whose logo adorns 300-year-old churches?


KS: How does it feel to be revered by so many Saints fans even after your career?  Being the clear winner of the "10 Years Stronger" play with your block, it truly shows how loved you are by Who Dat Nation.  With that being said, how are you going to feel Sept. 20 when you're honored at halftime during the Saints' home opener?

SG: I’ll cry like a baby at halftime, I’m sure. I am fortunate, which is  terribly ironic to say, given my current situation. Any other city, any other team, any other play, I don't think I would enjoy the love and support I now have.


Today, Gleason is loved by the New Orleans' Saints community, and the feeling is clearly mutual.  Gleason should continue to be a part of the Saints' organization for a long time to come.