Steve Gleason named George Halas Award finalist


The George Halas award, presented by Pro Football Writers of America, is given each year to an ‘NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed.’

We all know about former New Orleans Saints safety/special teams connoisseur Steve Gleason and his battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also knows as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

For those of you who don’t know exactly what ALS is, it’s considered a terminal neuromuscular disease that basically kills off neurons (neurodegeneration), which are electrically inspired cells that transmit and processes information through electric and chemical signals.  Neurons are used in your everyday functions from basic to complex activity.

A hero in the city of New Orleans, Steve Gleason has been fighting with the life-threatening disease since revealing his diagnosis in 2011.  It’s been a tough, but inspiring journey for the Big Easy legend.

He has become a face of hope for those battling with menacing illnesses and disorders, continuing to live his life while keeping his head up and staying strong.

Steve Gleason founded Team Gleason, a foundation set up to help people manage their lives with ALS.  Their mission statement:

• Help provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with leading edge technology, equipment and services.
• Create a global conversation about ALS to ultimately find solutions and an end to the disease.
• Raise public awareness toward ALS by providing and documenting extraordinary life adventures for individuals with muscular diseases or injuries.

Steve Gleason will always be remembered by the Who Dat Nation for his blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons on the night the Saints reopened the Superdome for the first time since New Orleans and the Gulf Coast were devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Gleason is one of five finalists for the George Halas award.  New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is a nominee for overcoming a handful of injuries.  Denver Broncos S Chris Harris was once an underdog undrafted free agent.  He now runs the Chris Harris Jr. Foundation, which is set up to support ‘underdogs’ through charitable activities, working with organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters and The Salvation Army.

Dallas Cowboys LB Rolando McClain is another finalist.  The eighth overall pick in 2011, his performance never matched up to his potential.  Bad play and trouble with the law led to his retirement.  However, he bounced back and became a Pro Bowl alternate in 2014 with Dallas after a slow start to his career in Oakland and Baltimore.

The remaining nominee is Cincinnati Bengals DL Devon Still.  In 2014, his daughter Leah was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  Still took a break from football for several weeks to lay by Leah’s side in the hospital.  The Bengals and Still put his jerseys up for sale to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer and the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.

Saints coach Sean Payton bought 100 jerseys and distributed them to the Boys & Girls Club and Children’s Hospital.  Still personally thanked Payton and showed his true appreciation in an emotional hug and handshake when the Bengals came to New Orleans for their November contest a season ago.

Leah’s tumor was removed, but some complications arose after stem cell transplant complications last week.  However, she is said to be doing better. Both Leah and Devon will be honored at the ESPYs for their inspirational journey.

Each finalist is deserving of the award in their own way.  While some may have it different than others, adversity is adversity, and it’s always motivating when somebody figures out how to overcome the challenges that surface with it.

Next: Recapping Saints first week of OTAs

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