In a moving ceremony at the U.S. Capitol's historic Statuary Room on Wednesday, Jan. 15, New Orleans Saints legend Steve Gleason received the Congressional Gold Medal, becoming the first former NFL player to receive the award.
In addition to a host of Louisiana and national political leaders who spoke, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees delivered a heartfelt speech, saying on the quarterback's 41st birthday, "There is no place I'd rather be today."
Saints Owner Gayle Benson attended the ceremony with Saints President Dennis Lauscha, Chief Operating Officer/Senior Vice President Ben Hales, Greg Bensel, senior vice president of communications and broadcasting, and Stephen Pate, vice president, governmental and business operations.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue were among the many dignitaries who also attended the ceremony.
Gleason, who spent seven years on the Saints, is one of fewer than 200 people who have received the gold medal, according to a news release about the award ceremony. He joins a list of medal winners that includes Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Thomas Edison, Dr. Jonas Salk and astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who took Apollo 11 to the moon.
Congress recognized his own contributions to humanity. The Stephen Michael Gleason Congressional Gold Medal Act honors his work through his Team Gleason foundation "to provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with the assistance they need to thrive, his advocacy for federal legislation ensuring people living with diseases such as ALS have access to speech generating devices, and his leadership in bringing together the single largest coordinated and collaborative ALS research project in the world."
There will be more coverage to come on NewOrleansSaints.com and our social channels. Below are some of our social posts from the event and some photo essays on Steve.
New Orleans Saints legend Steve Gleason is receiving the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday, Jan. 15 in Washington, D.C. We asked photographer Ted Jackson to spend Monday, Dec. 16 with Steve and his family as they went about a normal day, capped off by attending the Saints' game against the Colts in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.