Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 6/17/13
ATLANTA Three Atlanta radio hosts have been fired following an ugly two-minute clip of their morning show made fun of former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2011. Radio hosts Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro and Chris Dimino of "Mayhem in the AM" on 790 The Zone made insensitive remarks concerning Gleason's speech and health during a fake call-in sketch. All three were subsequently suspended, then quickly fired following a national outcry. "We deeply regret the offensive programming that aired this morning on 'Mayhem In The AM' on 790 The Zone, related to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS," Rick Mack, the station's senior vice president and general manager, said in a statement. "We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment. 790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS." The incident followed Gleason writing for Peter King's popular "Monday Morning Quarterback" column for Sports Illustrated. Gleason, a Super Bowl hero whose organization Team Gleason has raised and donated significant amounts of money for ALS research commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease and who has served as one of the public faces of the disease over the past few years, was famously documented by 60 Minutes for his use of a synthetic voice he controls through video-eye tracking. The disease has robbed the former football player of his ability to walk and talk. Perhaps best known for his punt block against the Atlanta Falcons in the first game back in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina, Gleason has become a national inspiration for his ongoing battle. Through his organization, NFL stars including Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Ray Lewis have voiced their support in finding a cure. In other words: This is not a situation to make fun of. The show's sketch centered around someone pretending to be Gleason and make offensive knock-knock jokes at the expense of the disease. (New Orleans radio station 106.1 The Ticket posted audio of the incident.) The degenerative disease attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord and claims the lives of two deaths per 100,000 people annually, according to the ALS Association's website. 790 The Zone is the flagship station of the Atlanta Falcons, and though the city's NFL franchise was not involved with the situation, it did release a statement Monday evening. "The Falcons are disappointed in the comments made about former Saints player Steve Gleason on a local Atlanta radio station Monday morning," the statement read. "The content concerning Mr. Gleason was completely inappropriate and is not representative of the views of the Falcons organization, nor does it represent the way we conduct our business on and off the field. To single out Steve the way he was this morning is totally lacking in taste and discretion."
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