November 11, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints former defensive back Steve Gleason diagnosed with ALS smiles after getting a kiss from the victory belles who were on hand to participate in the NFL salute to service week for a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Really we could stop right there and this article would take on a meaning beyond most anything I could write, but while that may be all the explanation necessary on a lot of levels in the future, you wouldn’t fully be able to come to grips with a true understanding of one of the most influential voices on the planet, right now. Always a Washington State Cougar and quite fittingly also a New Orleans Saint in his football days, Gleason was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) over 2 years ago and has lost most of his normal functionality, yet has been living with great success to change the world ever since.
After reading Gleason, you become a true fan of what it is to be selfless and enjoy a new appreciation for what your life encompasses. You become a fan of every breath that goes into and out of your body. You realize that life is more than getting out of bed, walking to our every daily destination and just going about our business, whatever that may be, everything. You realize your bills really aren’t that damaging and the fights you are fighting with your family probably aren’t even worth a speck of animosity. At least, a person with a normal life understands this… I did. For those living with ALS or any countless numbers of diseases around the globe, those facts have probably already set in, but this is an inspirational piece to all of you as well.
I don’t like sad movies or books or just general reads, never have, so the first couple paragraphs of this epic Steve Gleason piece on SI’s Monday Morning Quarterbackhad me bummin’. Dare I say it, I wanted to cry a couple of times and as bad as it sounds I tried to move on to something more interesting to me, not disrespectfully, just something less depressing. But as I was working on scraping myself away from it, I realized it was something I needed to continue to read, something I had to understand. For goodness sake he took the time to put the piece together, a staggering 4.5 hours at 20 words per minute, typing with his eyes via special computer, the least I could do was finish reading it at a pace that quite honestly, I take for granted. That’s a different kind of ink my friends!
The honorable Steve Gleason didn’t disappoint either! He’s still breathing, enjoying every minute of it and showing us his heart and quite frankly, his guts! He even willingly (and seemingly intentionally) made me laugh a few times, as I’m sure he will you (if you haven’t read the article do it as soon as your done with this), to show us how much he’s enjoying the life he has. Simply, pure, journalism.
A couple small pieces that I particularly fell in love with from the article read like this:
"So, I have conjured my own meaning from my circumstance, if in fact football did cause my ALS. It means to me that I gave my life helping a city and a region in ruins find some hope in their struggle for rebirth. I will never regret that…I think the question of whether I would play football again if I had to re-do it is a popular one for journalists, but for me it involves far too many hypothetical scenarios to answer with any seriousness. Would I give up my wife or son? Because, in some sense, football brought me to them. Also, tell me what my life would look like, in painstaking detail, had I not played football. Would I have gone to college? Would i have found something passionate and meaningful to do? Or would I be lost in some joyless job, toiling away at life? And it’s very possible I’d still get ALS. Would I have made an impact on others? If you can answer those questions for me, and countless others, I will tell you if I regret playing football. The simple answer is this: Right now, I’m happy. My life is not easy, but it’s awesome."
I can honestly say that the entire inspirational piece changed my outlook on how life is supposed to be lived. Amazing stuff and I’d like to thank Steve for doing it while also saying I’m proud beyond words to call him a fellow Coug and a more importantly a fellow human being. He and many others like him encompass the definition of what it is to be both a hero and a champion.
The Link again, in case you missed it.