11/24/2014 04:29 pm ET Updated Nov 24, 2014

Steve Gleason Goes Deep

Cindy Ord via Getty Images

Epic punt-blocker, eight-year NFL veteran, ALS activist: Steve Gleason is both a symbol of recovery for Hurricane-ravaged New Orleans—his blocked punt that sealed a Saints victory over the Falcons in the team’s first game in the Superdome after Katrina has been enshrined in bronze outside the stadium—and an icon of strength for those fighting a devastating disease. For the first time, the former special teams ace, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2011, discusses openly the link between football and ALS and how he’d prefer his son, Rivers, not to play football until more safeguards are in place. Gleason now speaks with eye-tracking software; when asked how he felt about doing a long Q & A, he responded: “I am totally overwhelmed, which is right where I like to be. Bring it!”

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