THE ICON: Steve Gleason
THE LEGACY: It took mere seconds for scrappy New Orleans Saints special teams stalwart Steve Gleason to make the greatest play in team history. The punt block heard ’round the world not only punctuated the team’s emotional 2006 return to the Superdome following its season-long Katrina exile, but it announced to the world that New Orleans was back. His rise from hero to beloved New Orleans icon wouldn’t truly be cemented, however, until five years after his NFL retirement, and after his diagnosis with the degenerative nerve disorder ALS. Rather than retreating in self-pity, however, Gleason — behind his “No White Flags” rallying cry — has emerged as a tireless ALS activist, a spirited symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity, and as an inspiration to countless people in his adopted hometown and beyond.
THE ARTIST: Sean Randall
THE INSPIRATION: “I’m pretty optimistic about the future. There’s a lot of life to be lived out there. I think my future is bigger than my past.” — Steve Gleason, on his retirement from the Saints, 18 months after the punt block that has defined his playing career