Originally posted on The Mark Graham Sports Blog  |  Last updated 7/27/12
The New Orleans Saints unveiled a statue today commemorating the blocked punt that helped the city of New Orleans return to normal after the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Steve Gleason blocked a punt from then-Atlanta Falcon punter Michael Koenen and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. That game was the first home game for the Saints in 21 months and helped return the city back to normalcy. Gleason, suffering from ALS and has a hard time speaking, said, "That statue is not about football," Gleason, straining to speak because of the effects of ALS, said moments before the formal unveiling on a rain-soaked Friday afternoon. "It's a symbol of the commitment and perseverance that this community took on before that game. "There were 75,000 people in that stadium and few hundred thousand others outside the stadium who had already committed themselves to coming back and rebuilding this community. So that statue is a symbol of what they did. And I think that moment was the moment when we as a team got to share that commitment and perseverance with the rest of the world." Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 and now has to get around using a motorized wheelchair. The statue called "Rebirth" shows Gleason outstretched in a dive as his hands are right around Koenen's punted ball. The statue is now sits outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
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