Gleason blocked a punt leading to the Saints' first touchdown in the their first game back at the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina.
But three years after he last played in the NFL, Gleason was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that hits former NFL players at a higher rate and at younger ages.
HBO's "Real Sports" caught up with Gleason and talked to him about the disease and how it is affecting his life.
A large number of former NFL players have been stricken with ALS at younger ages than most people, like former Raider Steve Smith who couldn't move at the age of 45
In 2010, research revealed that repeated head trauma can cause ALS
Gleason says he was knocked out twice in the NFL, but had "his bell rung" hundreds of times
The Saints bounty-gate tapes, in which other players were targeted for injury, only came out because Gleason was visiting the team and a filmmaker documenting Gleason was in the room
Gleason is now fighting the disease, including to help build a care facility for other ALS victims in New Orleans
He even spoke at the United Nations about improved technology for people with ALS
He also works with other victims of ALS including taking them on canoe trips
He has been honored by the Saints with a statue for his famous play in 2006
At home, he's preparing for a time when he will no longer be able to speak
And spending time with his young son
Sadly, the life expectancy of somebody with ALS is 3-5 years
And nobody can prove the hits caused Gleason's ALS until after he dies and his brain is examined
Hopefully the NFL will continue to curb violent collisions as long as there is a chance it will mean fewer cases like Gleason
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-gleason-nfl-concussion-issue-2012-8?op=1#ixzz24RXgiURq
Steve Gleason Is The New Face Of The NFL's Concussion Issue, And He Only Has 2-3 Years To Live - Business Insider