Yesterday was the five year anniversary of the reopening of the Superdome. It was one of the most memorable days of my life. I wrote about it here. Here's a picture of me and Mark Gstohl at the game.
All last week the Times-Picayune ran articles about that amazing event. There were behind the scenes interviews with the players, coaches, musicians, workers, and broadcast professionals. Some of my favorite stories were from the ESPN crew about how that game was by far the most emotional sporting event they had ever witnessed. I found amusement in the quotation from Saints' owner Rita Benson LeBlanc about the Skids' song "The Saints Are Coming." She hated the original and described it as "an extremely harsh and barely understandable punk song." Saints players and coaches spoke about how it was the most memorable game that they had ever participated in, and the noise level in the Dome after the blocked Atlanta punt and subsequent touchdown has never been matched anywhere.
Steve Gleason, the Saints' player who blocked the punt, was featured on the front page of yesterday's paper. He announced that he has ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Gleason, like my family, moved to New Orleans, fell in love with the city, and decided to plant roots. There is much to admire about Gleason. He was at the Dome yesterday, and he served as honorary captain. It looked like he was having a hard time walking. Seeing him supported by Drew Brees, as he walked to center field grabbing the back of Brees' shoulder pads, and then upfield to start the "Who Dat" chant, well, it took my breath away. Here was an NFL athlete whose heroics five years ago caused our city to be able to boast to the world that we were strong, and we were back, and we didn't suck any more.
Thanks Steve Gleason. Words can't express how much your actions from five years ago until today have meant to me.