New Orleans Saints legend Steve Gleason named PFWA 2015 George Halas Award winner


Two weeks after being selected as a finalist for the Pro Football Writers of America 2015 George Halas Award, New Orleans Saints legend Steve Gleason has been named the winner.  The award is given each year to an ‘NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed.’

From PFWA:

"Former New Orleans Saints special-teams player Steve Gleason, whose continuing battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) serves as an inspiration to many and who has helped raise funds to help provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with leading-edge technology, equipment and services via his Gleason Initiative Foundation and Team Gleason organization, has been selected as the 2015 George Halas Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA)."

We all know about former Saints safety/special teams connoisseur Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS.  For those of you who don’t know exactly what the illness 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.

Former New Orleans Saints Steve Gleason prepares to lead the “Who Dat Chant” on September 25, 2011 as QB Drew Brees(right) looks on (Source

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.

"His zeal for life and travel around the world has not been slowed by his diagnosis. Fueled by his slogans of “No White Flags!” and “Awesome Ain’t Easy”, Gleason and his foundation got to work almost immediately to raise public awareness about ALS and find ways to end the disease. He completed his work on his MBA from Tulane University, and he and wife Michel started a family with the birth of son Rivers in October 2011."

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 was one of five finalists for the George Halas Award, alongside New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, Denver Broncos safety Chris Harris, Dallas Cowboys LB Rolando McClain and Cincinnati Bengals DL Devon Still.

Steve Gleason,

All candidates were well deserving of the honor in their own way, but it’s Steve Gleason who has without question faced the most adversity in the past several years.  However, Still is certainly in the argument after his daughter was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in 2014.

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.  It’s a pleasure to say Leah is doing much better.

Regardless of who or what, it’s always incredible to see somebody overcome all the tough obstacles life throws our way.  From all of us here at Who Dat Dish we’d like to congratulate and continue to send prayers Steve Gleason’s way as he continues his gruesome battle with ALS.  He is the third member of the Saints to win the George Halas Award, accompanying current QB Drew Brees (2007) and former kicker Tom Dempsey (1972).

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