Thursday, October 25, 2012

Football season is in full tackle mode right now and we are all glad to see our favorite players suit up and return to the game each season. Not all return due to breathtaking injuries or to scandals. Many of these coaches should be held accountable for what they say and do and be criminally prosecuted for their aggressiveness at all cost to winning a game.
Lets look at the NFL team the New Orleans Saints. The team is playing without their head coach this season Sean Peyton who is suspended for his role in the Pay for Pain scandal that has become to be known as Bounty Gate. They are still debating about who said what because no one can ever say the truth in any accusation these days. The most damning evidence was recordings that were made by a filmmaker that was making a documentary about the struggles of s former Saints player, Steve Gleason who has his own story of paralysis caused from too many blows to his brain.
Gleason played in the NFL for eight years. Unlike so many professional athletes that blow through all their money, this guy seemed idyllically prepared for life after football. He was well educated and excited about life beyond the field. Now he is our tragic hero. Steve Gleason is now trapped in a deteriorating body. He was a star in probably the most significant football game ever.
In September 2006, the people of New Orleans was calling it a miracle that they were playing their first game in the Dome that was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina the previous year. Then on the very first series of the game one man number 37 Steve Gleason got the first touchdown for New Orleans that seemed to uplift the place to new heights that the place could be back to what they were before the hurricane.
Steve’s dramatic punt block led the Saints to a blowout win. Some say it was the most important play in franchise history and even after he retired he is proud that the play would be the one thing he would be remembered for doing in his career. That was in 2009 now in 2012 he is confined to a wheelchair and his speech is hardly recognizable. He is 35 years old and suffering from ALS a rare disease that destroys the muscles of the body and keeps going until it shuts down the lungs.
In a cruel twist there is only one part of the body ALS doesn’t effect, the brain. So, Steve is totally aware of his physical demise. The cruelest thing of all is that the game that made him a hero may well have been the game that triggered this disease that took his body. A body that he had plans for in the future to do good with. He knew football wouldn’t last forever and unlike his fellow players that were spending all their money on fast women and fast cars he was leading quite a different life.
So, Steve studied poetry, and literature. Played guitar, was passionate about the environment and traveled the world every off season. He rented a tiny apartment in the heart of n\New Orleans so he could soak up the culture of the city he called home. He married his girl and backpacked all over the world for 6 months before coming home to start a new life after football. Finished his Masters of Business Administration at Tulane University. Sounds great until the disease kicks in.
Steve at 33 years old wondered how he could have a disease that rarely strikes people under the age of 60. He was not alone. Around the same time there was an unusually large amount of former NFL players being struck with the same disease. Guys like former Raider number 35 Steve Smith who at age 45 lost his ability to move. And to this day can only communicate through a computer that reads the movements from his eyes.
Researchers at Boston University have concluded that repeated head trauma, the kinds sustained during a football career, could lead to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. With this proof the biggest NFL scandal of the year was released that involved the team and the city he helped rebuild. It became known as Bounty Gate involving Payton, Williams and Loomis.
The revelation that some Saints coaches and players put up money to injure players bodies and brains, hit them so hard and repeatedly that they had to be taken out of the game due to their injuries. Recorded was the coach saying, “Kill the head and the body will die.” That was the Saints Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams.
The night before they played the San Francisco 49ers and on tape was recorded him saying, “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head.” This is not a coach this is the voice of an attempted murderer and should be in jail. He went on to say, “We are going to kill the fuckin’ head. Every single one of you, before you get off the pile, affect the head. Early, Affect the head, continue, touch and hit the head.”
There was a pool of money made available to players willing to injure other players. These coaches should be in prison for attempted murder.
Now he has a foundation called Team Gleason to help other players that were targeted to get pelted till paralysis. Has a child and receives $10,000 dollars a month from the NFL to cover total and permanent disability. There is a statue in bronze that shows him getting that punted ball that changed New Orleans spirit that is erected along the side of the New Orleans Super Dome.

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