I remember Gleason as being muscular but not the “prototype” that we see today. When he emerged from sideline, I was shocked at his thin frame. Gleason grasped Saints QB Drew Brees shoulder and began to move to midfield.
He walked slowly and with a noticeable limp, as he inched to the coin toss. The Gleason that I remembered flying up and down the turf not so long ago seemed ages away now.
Suddenly, I felt like I had swallowed an ice cube and my jaw clicked. My eyes began to blur as I felt tears building in my eyes. I exhaled heavily and looked around to see the same from my wife and everyone around me, men and women.
After the toss, Gleason was assisted to the 35 yard line to lead the “Who Dat Chant”. Gleason slowly raised his arm using as much effort as he could muster. The Superdome began to swell with raw emotion.
Gleason, almost in defiance, threw his arm down and the sold out crowd began the chant. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed that loud in my life. Tears coming out of the corners of my eyes, I think we were all cheering more for Gleason than anything.