The Saints presented former player Steve Gleason with a ring from their Super Bowl XLIV championship on Monday night in an emotional ceremony at a private party in New Orleans.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu also presented Gleason with a proclamation and a key to the city.
Gleason played eight seasons for the Saints and retired in 2008. In January, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rare terminal disease which damages the nerves that control voluntary muscle movement.
Saints coach Sean Payton made the presentation to Gleason before a packed crowd of about 100 friends, family, colleagues and former teammates, including quarterback Drew Brees and Saints owner Tom Benson.
“At the beginning of the game. I never knew if we were going to win or lose, but I was always for certain that I was going to walk out of there with my head held high because I got ready, I had the right people around me, and I was going to give it everything I had,” said an Gleason during an emotional six-minute speech. “It’s the same now. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got. I have a calming sense of certainty that we’re going to win this thing.”
The surprise event organized by the Saints, former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita and Gleason’s wife, Michel, attracted 17 former or current Saints players. Among them: Fujita; Brees; Deuce McAllister; Will Smith; Jon Stinchcomb; Mike McKenzie; Thomas Morstead; Scott Shanle; Michael Lewis; John Carney; Mark Simoneau; Fred Thomas; Chris Reis; Fred McAfee; Mel Mitchell; Nate Lawrie; and Shad Meier.
“This isn’t about Steve having ALS,” Fujita said. “This is about Steve and his contribution to the 2009 team and the championship. He deserved it.”