Friday, 16 October 2015 16:28

The Saintly spirits of Steve Gleason touching Michael Mauti, New Orleans and the nation

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gleasonThe NFL New Orleans vs. the Atlanta Falcons rivalry over the decade has had its share of special moments.

It started during the first years in the sixties, when the New Orleans franchise took to the Tulane University Stadium.  It grew with intensity during the last-moment-Falcon victories in the dirty-birds home.  It worsened with that Hail-Mary Atlanta win in the Superdome, sending a hopeful crowd to the sad Poydras streets.   Over the years, the two teams and their cities have fought, cursed and hated one another, with a football passion, like no other.

 Last night, in front of national TV, a spirit of the past rivalries descended onto the field and through the living rooms across the nation.

The NFL, moments prior to the kickoff, showcased a two-minute memory of the historic night that Saints’ Steve Gleason blocked the Falcon’s punter’s kick.  That one moment captured in front of a nation TV audience, will go down into the city’s history as a living testimony in time.  It represents the rebirth of the very fragile post-Katrina city, desperately thirty for hope, after its football heroes were prevented playing at home and after the team’s owner was convinced to return it to its roots. 

Fast-forward nine years.  The son of a New Orleans-great Saint, Rick Mauti, ripped across the Falcons’ front line and blocked a punt for a touchdown;  Again, on prime-time national television.  That one play helped break through the cloud of desperation of losses the once-proud Super Bowl champion has experienced the past-year-and-one-half.    If anything, it helped a wounded city realize it could believe once-again.

With quickness and brute strength, Michael Mauti, was able to pay tribute to the former Saint, who now suffers from ALS.  The horrific disease, has robbed Gleason’s body but has graced him with a mind and heart, still living with gut determination of purpose.  Although unable to speak, the TV cameras showed his a smile beaming across his face lighting up the stadium and the hearts of the nation.   At that one moment, the awesome spirit of Gleason touched that of Mauti, creating a special bond, for the ages.

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Stephen Sabludowsky | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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