NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Nine years ago Friday, Steve Gleason electrified Hurricane Katrina-weary Saints fans with a block that helped change the fate of the Saints for nearly a decade.
New Orleans was preparing to play its first post-storm home game. It was Sean Payton's first home game as the team's head coach and Drew Brees' first as the Saints quarterback. To add to the drama, the Saints were playing division rival Atlanta in a Monday Night Football showdown.
The Saints forced a three-and-out to start the game, and that is when this moment propelled Gleason into Saints lore.
Payton said it was obviously a special and important night.
"I've said this before, that 2006 season was arguably just as important as any other season we've had in light of everything that had gone on in 2005," he said. "A lot of things came together, and the play prior (to the blocked punt) was a fumble that went out of bounds where I think (Scott) Fujita was close to making a play on the ball and we weren't able to recover so of course the punt thing came. But the timing was perfect for him (Gleason). He executed it just right."
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS and made his condition publicly known in 2011. His foundation, No White Flags, has made strides in bringing awareness to the disease.