Yesteray, Sean Payton "stepped away" from his position as New Orlean Saints head coach after 16 seasons. His departure wasn't a total shock, I feel like there have been rumors and rumblings that this was possible, but that could very well be my brain fibbing to me for the sake of needing a transitional sentence.
In today's "nothing but championships matter" mentality in sports, it's easy to dwell on the fact that Payton "only" won one Super Bowl with the Saints, but let's not forget what this man inherited and what he means to the city of New Orleans. New Orleans, not just the Saints, was in total rebuild mode when he arrived. I love sports and talking shit, but there's no reason for clickbait like this. Payton's impact on New Orleans is much bigger than what his teams accomplished on the field.
When you coach the same franchise for over a decade and a half, there are plenty of meaningful relationships you'll make along the way. I can't speak for Payton, but I'm sure one of the first he'd mention is Steve Gleason.
If you're not familiar with that name, Steve Gleason was a special-teamer and safety with the Saints from 2000-06 and is responsible for probably the most uplifting play in NFL history.
IMO that block is the biggest play in Saints history. Maybe some fans think the surprise onside kick, but that blocked punt was so much more than a great effort by a bottom of the roster guy, it symbolized that New Orleans was back after facing unspeakable devastation and loss. The man has a statue outside of the Superdome for God's sake.
Unfortunately, Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 when he was just 32 years old. Despite his prognosis, Steve hasn't stopped living. His charity Team Gleason and their "No White Flags" mantra have provided more than $20 million for in their words "adventure, technology, equipment, and care services." I cannot recommend his documentary Gleason enough. In 2019, Gleason received a Congressional Gold Medal for his contributions to ALS awareness.
There have been plenty of former Saints players paying respect to Payton's tenure in New Orleans on social media, but when I saw this on Instagram, it warmed me up inside after another shitty day trying to make a difference in Pxxxxxxx Schools. I think I needed it; it helped me put my problems in perspective for a second. Everything Steve Gleason makes me emotional, and this post made me smile.
I've fought back (and lost) tears and blown my nose louder than the Superdome was after Steve's block as I tried to write this blog, but I loved this post and had to blog it. There are so many great photos that show another side of Sean Payton other than the coach we've seen on the Saints sideline since 2006 (with a sabbatical in 2012). I've been terrified of ALS since I learned what it is from Curt Schilling's cleats, and the fact that Steve's remained so positive while battling such a brutal disease is inspirational. That bud light picture is awesome. Congrats on a great run, Coach Payton and God bless Steve Gleason. #NoWhiteFlags
If you want to learn a little more about Steve Gleason's story and lose a few pounds of water weight via your eyes, check out this video from 2013.