Steve Gleason Shares Memories Ahead of ESPN's Re-Air: Saints vs Falcons (2006)
The roar of the crowd that September night following Mike Tirico’s call represented so much more than a touchdown against a hated rival. That moment, now enshrined outside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, was the voice of thousands in the Bayou and that voice screamed “We are back”.On April 6th, 2020 ESPN will re-air the famous “Domecoming” with most of New Orleans and the Who Dat Nation watching from home.
Ahead of the Re-Air of the September 25th 2006 matchup against Atlanta, Steve Gleason reminisces on the events leading up to the moment now known as the “Rebirth” of New Orleans. Via his personal Twitter account: @SteveGleason, Gleason takes Saints fans on an inside look of the Camps & Preseason leading into the 2006 NFL Season.
The former Saints special-teams ace began by sharing where his mindset was ahead of the season and how newly hired Head Coach Sean Payton showed him three clear moments during the offseason that change was coming to New Orleans. His first clear moment came within the friendly confines of the locker room, when Coach Payton replaced a sign hanging on the wall. The new sign read: “Saints players will be Smart, Tough, Disciplined, and Well Conditioned”. Gleason took it with a grain of salt but was encouraged and even more encouraged when the Saints signed Drew Brees and Scott Fujita.
The second clear moment came when the Saints played their “home” preseason game in Jackson, MS. Gleason describes the hotel that the team was staying as awful. “Holes in the sheetrock and the carpet peeling up... Brutal”. Sean Payton then voiced his frustration and promised the team that this would never happen again.
The final moment occurs the Friday prior to the re-opening of the Superdome. “New Orleans had been through a year of hell” said Gleason.
2005 was filled with loss, tears, & anguish. Not so different from what our world is enduring now. I learned Resilience from New Orleans that year. When the ordinary see tragedy, the resilient see opportunity. When the ordinary retreat, the resilient reinvent. The Saints had an entirely new coaching staff, & a lot of new players. We had won our first two road games, so the city and the team were cautiously optimistic. But None of us had been in the dome since it had been full local refugees, then ultimately destroyed. The Saints had practice in the dome that Friday. Sean Payton showed a video that briefly documented the history of the previous 13 months. The video held back no details. Body bags, destruction, weeping, embracing, and ultimately - the resilience of New Orleans. That video allowed the guys who had lived through the nightmare to vent their feelings. I was a balling mess. It allowed the new guys to appreciate the magnitude and significance of the return. The rest is history. We'll watch it together and tonight on ESPN.
As New Orleans re-watches one of the greatest moments on the history of the city, not the team, city, I hope that through this we as humanity recall where we have been and know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. New Orleans is such a special city filled with resilient people, loving people, and people who always have hope. This game played nearly 15 years ago was and still is a perfect representation of the people of New Orleans. This re-air is for the people of New Orleans. Let us enjoy the beautiful “Rebirth”.
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