From Team Gleason's Facebook — a letter from Steve Gleason:
Regarding the DJ skit in Atlanta yesterday. I would like to thank the public for their support. 'Defend Team Gleason' now has been officially redefined. Additionally, the DJs have provided genuine apology. Received and accepted. We have all made mistakes in this life. How we learn from our mistakes is the measure of who we are.
I think everyone can learn from this event. Its clear to me that, on a national & global scale, ALS is not understood, which is part of why its under funded and largely ignored. In the past 36 hours lots of people have been talking. Lets talk about this... There are zero treatments for ALS. If you take any action as a result of this event, I prefer it to be action to end ALS. See what we are doing to change that @ teamgleason.org. SG
Once again, the universe has reinforced the lesson that in America, you're welcome to say whatever you like, but you don't get to control the consequences.
The universe has also reduced our weekly web poll to yesterday's news, as all the options involved came true at one time or another within 12 hours:
So we've pulled that poll question and have come up with a new one:
Update, 5:15 p.m.: 790 The Zone station manager apologizes to the Gleason family and announced the termination of the radio announcers.
Update, 1:25 p.m.: 790 The Zone has suspended "Mayhem In The AM" members. From station manager Rick Mack:
We deeply regret the comments made by Mayhem In The AM this morning on 790 The Zone regarding former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason. 790 The Zone, Lincoln Financial Media, our sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support the unfortunate and offensive commentary concerning Mr. Gleason this morning. The members of the show involved with this incident have been suspended indefinitely pending further management review of their actions.
My apologies to everyone. It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid.
— Nick Cellini (@NickCellini) June 17, 2013
The New Orleans Saints literally enshrined former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason for his blocked punt heard 'round the world against the Atlanta Falcons in 2006. In 2011, Gleason announced his battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and the forming of his Team Gleason foundation to fund research and raise awareness of the disease.
I guess Falcons fans are still bitter about a 7-year-old game. This morning, JW on TigerDroppings.com wrote that Atlanta morning zoo jockeys on 790 The Zone — the "flagship station" of the Falcons — "had a whole segment making fun of Steve Gleason and him talking through a computer."
The arse clowns from Mayhem in the AM did this 3 minute joke where they pretended that Steve Gleason called in and they asked him questions. Most of his responses were in the form of a knock knock joke and at one point he says he doesn't know if he will be alive next Thursday.
As my colleague, Gus Kattengell, noted yesterday: pretty much any defensive player the Saints chose with the 15th overall pick in the NFL Draft would have been an improvement on last year's historically bad defense. So New Orleans surprised no one by picking a defensive player and chose someone many consider to be the best safety in the draft, Kenny Vaccaro of the University of Texas.
Obviously, less than a day since he was drafted, it's impossible to tell what kind of impact Vaccaro will have on the Saints' secondary. Now, college football and Saints experts and die-hard fans can tell you all you need to know about Vaccaro's Longhorns career and what pundits are saying about his athleticism. But since all parties involved want this to be a long-term and prosperous relationship, it's appropriate we go a little deeper. So here are three facts about the Saints' new Safety.
1. He has over 40 tattoos, most of which are religious — Last season, some idiot wrote a ridiculous article about San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick and his tattoos, once again proving that stereotypes die hard. Physically speaking, a glance at Vaccaro can remind you of the 49er's quarterback. Like Kaepernick, Vaccaro's arm tattoos are mostly about family and religion. Texassports.com reported that Vaccaro's tattoos "include a depiction of [Jesus] Christ reigning on earth through a sketch of Jesus holding the world together, the quote, "Walk by faith, not by sight," and the recognition of sin existing in the world by an image of the earth being broken open." Vaccaro's ink also references his mother and late father.
2. He has two connections to the Washington Redskins - Remember the Saints opening game last season? The one that proved to be Redskins' quarterback Robert Griffin III's coming out party and the first evidence that the Saints season was going to be a bad one? Yea, you'd be forgiven if Who Dats have blocked that one from memory. But while at the University of Texas, it's likely that Vaccaro was watching the game and rooting for Griffin. That's because they grew up together and have been friends for most of their lives. Now Vaccaro is playing for the team Griffin lit up for 320 passing yards last season.
Vaccaro's connection with Washington go even deeper. His uncle, A.J. Johnson, played on the 1992 Super Bowl Champion Redskins as a defensive back.
3. He's a prolific Instagrammer - Since joining the social picture site six months ago, Vaccaro has uploaded over 260 photos (and counting). The pictures range from memes to adorable shots of his son to humor and even an artsy piece or two. OK, it's not high art or a professional photographer's Instagram, but he's young and already has more photos online than any other Saints player. So there's that.
New Orleans Saints fans no doubt see the start of the NFL Draft as finally a turning of the page to a forgettable and gut wrenching season. As Saints players conclude their second week of “voluntary” offseason condition programs, the team is hoping to once again find talent that will help build a winning football team.
The Saints have five picks as they head into the draft. The 15h overall pick in the first round, the 75th overall pick in the third round, the 109th pick overall in the 4th round, 144th overall pick in the fifth round and in the sixth round the 183rd overall.
A QUICK LOOK BACK
Start planning your Sundays and your prime times, New Orleans ...
Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo announced a long list of supporters co-signing a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting marriage equality and challenging California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage.
In a statement, former New Orleans Saint Scott Fujita said, "Football is a macho sport, but we've found many players to be accepting. We hope to create an environment where a player who is gay will be treated like any other teammate."
Among the co-signing supporters for the "Athletes' Brief" are Saints linebacker Scott Shanle, as well as former Saints players Steve Gleason, David Kopay and Kawika Mitchell. Other supporters include Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, WNBA coaches and players, university athletic directors and others. Kluwe, Ayanbadejo and Fujita are Ambassadors for Athlete Ally, an organization aiming to end homophobia in sports — you can read the organization's brief in full here.
The brief's introduction includes the following:
The NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA, at the league level, team level, and individual level, are finally speaking out against homophobia and intolerance of LBGTQ individuals. More and more of us realize that using demeaning slur words like “faggot,” “queer,” and “gay” can have serious, negative consequences. ... Not necessarily consequences for us. Instead, consequences for the children and adults who look up to us as role models and leaders. Consequences for children and adults who mimic our behavior when they interact with others. And consequences that can be severe, long-lasting, and not infrequently lead to suicide and other serious harm.
Read the brief's full introduction below the jump.
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton filled another position to his coaching staff on Monday as Wesley McGriff was hired as the team’s secondary coach.
McGriff spent last season serving as the co-defensive coordinator / cornerback coach at Ole Miss. McGriff has coached collegiate football for 22 years and was a part of a turnaround season at Ole Miss as the Rebels went from a 2-10 season in 2011 to a 7-6 season.
Payton fired defensive coordinator Steve Spanuolo and secondary coach Ken Flajole a day after joining his staff in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. The Saints defense gave up an NFL record 7,042 yards of total offense last season. Poor tackling, lack of coverage and overall ability to make plays plagued the defense last season.
Which leads us to the letters page of the Post this morning, where a reader complains "The political-correctness police have started their ritual" and goes on to wonder:
Are there no more important issues these days? There are many NFL team names that may offend thin-skinned and hypersensitive people: Do atheists hate the Saints?
Weigh in here, atheists. Chime in, New Orleans Secular Humanist Association. Do you hate the Saints? (And we're not talking about last season's defense, but the team as a whole.)
Thomas spent the last four seasons with the Saints and was a key part of the offense as he played alongside tight ends Jimmy Graham and Jeremy Shockey. “This was an extremely difficult decision to make with David today,” said Loomis. “Since he came here in 2009, he’s been an important part of our team, both with his performance on the field and with the outstanding veteran leadership he’s provided for us.”
“David has been important part of our team since the day he arrived here immediately after the 2009 preseason and we appreciate everything he did for us these last four seasons,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “With his dependability, intelligence and work ethic, he was someone our players and coaches could always rely on. On the field, he would set a physical tone and his versatility proved to be a great asset for us.”
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