The one-hour special chronicles Gleason’s football career, the early stages of his retirement, his life-altering diagnosis and his new livelihood as a patient, spokesperson, and trailblazer.
Each day, Gleason is challenged and rewarded in ways opponents and victories never could. Featured stories in Steve Gleason: A Football Life are:
ALS Diagnosis: After eight NFL seasons, Gleason retired and began a new chapter of his life. He was married, he traveled and was spontaneous. However, after two years of retirement, his care-free life was forced to slow down. Ahead of him was a battery of tests to determine his illness. Eight months later, Gleason and his family’s worst fears were confirmed: he had ALS.
Steve Gleason: A Football Life details his family’s reaction to the traumatic diagnosis and the inevitable deterioration of Gleason’s physical abilities. Fast-forwarding to present day, Gleason demonstrates how he is able to communicate with others and what his day-to-day life is like living with ALS.
No White Flags: Steve Gleason’s story has positively inspired many people since he went public with his diagnosis. Furthermore, his foundation Team Gleason, has become the voice of ALS patients throughout the world.
With the mantra “No White Flags,” Team Gleason views no obstacle as too big and no challenge as unattainable. In fact, the foundation specializes in setting up adventures for those suffering with ALS and other neurological muscle diseases. The ultimate goal behind the foundation is to create ALS awareness which will facilitate medical research, and create a path toward a cure for ALS.
Team Gleason’s tangible impact is best demonstrated through The Team Gleason House for Innovative Living – a housing complex to help those who suffer from ALS and other neurological muscle diseases. Steve calls the house “The most significant achievement for his foundation to date.”
The Ascent of Machu Picchu: Climbing Machu Picchu is a challenge for the healthiest people. With Steve Gleason’s limitations and his toddler son, Rivers, along for the climb, Team Gleason tried to do the impossible.
Steve Gleason: A Football Life documents the entire adventure – from preparation, to traveling to Peru, and the ascent up mountain. As former NFL player and teammate of Gleason Scott Fujita summed up during the climb, “Football has nothing on this.”
Team Gleason faced a number of challenges, which almost derailed the mission. However, it was the chance encounter with Jenny Gonzalez – a fan of Team Gleason – which positively changed the whole trip.
Steve Gleason: A Football Life includes interviews with the following people:
Michel Varisco Gleason – Steve’s wife
Scott Fujita – Former Saints teammate and Gleason’s best friend
Gail Gleason – Steve’s mother
Mike Gleason – Steve’s father
Kyle Gleason – Steve’s brother
Blair Casey – General Manager of Team Gleason
Kevin Swan – Fellow ALS patient
H.T. Higgins – Gleason’s football coach at Gonzaga Prep High School
Jenny Gonzalez – Fan of Team Gleason
Dr. Jim Logan – One of Steve’s doctors
A Football Life: Backstory – Immediately Following at 9 PM CT
New this season, A Football Life: Backstory airs following each A Football Life episode at 9 pm CT on NFL Network. The 30-minute show provides a deeper look into Steve Gleason’s life and story. This week, joining host Jenn Brown, are members of Team Gleason including Blair Casey and Clare Durrett. Additionally, the producer of the film Charlie Askew will be in-studio to talk about the making of the documentary and Jenny Gonzalez, who met Steve Gleason by happenstance, will be live to talk about the chance-encounter and how it impacted her life.