The picture to the left is the newest statue outside the Superdome to commemorate Steve Gleason’s famous blocked punt in the first Saints game at home post-Katrina. The statue was unveiled yesterday and it will remain there hopefully forever. If you read Gleason’s comments in the article I just linked you’ll see it speaks volumes of the kind of person he is, but it also illustrates the symoblism attached to that statue. The fact that Gleason gets to experience all of this (and a wing of the Saints’ Hall of Fame dedicated to him) before he dies of ALS is also pretty special. I applaud the Saints for making this happen, and I applaud Steve Gleason most of all for his courage in the face of some’s biggest fear.
As Gleason suggests, the statue has meaning that transcends one play or sports as a whole. If you’re from New Orleans and you were a Saints fan the year before that season, you know the depths from which the city and the organization came back to make that moment possible. Everything that culminated from the very instant Hurricane Katrina hit the coastline to Gleason lining up across a long snapper in the newly refurnished Superdome is represented in that statue. The fact that the Saints would win the Super Bowl title in 2009 also has a part of that statue. And who better than Steve Gleason to be the flag bearer for that symbol? A symbol of rebirth, perseverence, strength, courage in the face of disaster, and maybe a little faith too.
That moment in Saints history is one we would never forget as fans anyway, and being there in person on that glorious day makes it obviously quite special to me. Still, it’s memory being on display makes it all the more glorified and special – something New Orleans, Steve Gleason, and the Saints deserve given everything they’ve been through.