COMMENTARY | Steve Gleason is a man who has overcome so many obstacles to become an inspiration for people with ALS and, frankly, people everywhere. It's easy to get swept up in his amazing story, especially when he wrote about it so eloquently in yesterday's Monday Morning Quarterback. And that's why it's easy to get so angry and want to rally to his defense when he is mocked and degraded like he was yesterday on an Atlanta Sports radio program. But with all of that emotion, it is important to remember who the culprit is, and more importantly who it isn't.
It's easy to get carried away in the social times we live in, where reaction is instant and public. It's easy to be horrified by stupid jokes and inappropriate behavior. It's easy to want to show your disgust for these actions. It's easy to take that disgust out on people who don't deserve it.
This last sentence is the kicker. Yesterday, three people did an inappropriate, ill-advised thing when the DJs at 790 The Zone mocked Steve Gleason's condition. Those people have been fired and publically shamed for their actions. And that's where it should end.
The city of Atlanta has nothing to do with this. The Atlanta Falcons have nothing to do with this. The New Orleans Saints have nothing to do with this. Horrified fans in New Orleans and across the country would like to make this about a sports rivalry that has heated up over the past few years, but in reality it starts and ends with three men in a studio.
It would be fun to add another chapter to the Saints/Falcons rivalry. Fans of both sides relish in disliking their NFC South foe. Whether it be Roddy White's comments about New Orleans, the Saints taking pictures on Atlanta's logo, or Atlanta citizens egging the Saints bus, there has been plenty of fuel to the fanatic fire. It's a little intense, but it's fun and it should be. There's something satisfying about rooting against a team, and it's easy to let off-the-field incidents become a part of that.
But if you're truly horrified by Nick Cellini and company's actions, the last thing you want to do is put on your black and gold war paint and battle the Falcons or the city of Atlanta. Because Sunday glory is important, but only to a certain extent. It's not important enough to stoop to the low levels of mocking a man's disease. And it's also not important enough to meet that level by blaming an entire city for the actions of three men.
The team has distanced itself from the radio hosts, and they were right to do so. As fans of the Black and Gold, we should do the same. We should acknowledge what they did was wrong, and that we do not approve, but we must also acknowledge that there is no deeper meaning to it. It doesn't have anything to do with football. And when Week 1 comes around and the Saints host the Falcons in the same spot where Steve Gleason made a nation of Who Dats happy seven years before, it should be about the two teams, their players, and their fans. It won't be - and shouldn't be - about three men who thought it would be funny to tear down a man who means so much to so many people.
Nathan Raby is from New Orleans and is a lifelong supporter of the Saints and everything New Orleans. He is the co-founder and writer of thefootbawlblog.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Steve Gleason
- Atlanta Falcons