A radio stunt mocking former Saints player Steve Gleason has now cost three Atlanta radio employees their jobs.
790 The Zone’s morning show, “Mayhem in the AM” aired a fake interview — supposedly with Gleason — Monday making light of his battle with ALS and the computerized voice Gleason now uses to communicate.
The 36-year-old has made his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis public so he can raise awareness of the disease and funds to find a cure.
Outraged reaction poured in, first from those in the Atlanta area who heard the broadcast and then from Louisiana, where the Black and Gold faithful fervently jumped to the defense of a man who has become an iconic hero for the region.
Late Monday afternoon, Rick Mack, General Manager of 790 fired the three people involved and issued this statement: “790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS.”
That decision came after one of the hosts of “Mayhem in the AM”, Nick Cellini, tweeted out this attempt at an apology, which only seemed to further enrage most people: “My apologies to everyone. It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid.”
Former Saints players Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle fired back on twitter with phrases like “This goes beyond stupidity, no words….”
This radio controversy came on the heels of a shining moment for Gleason, who wrote Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” column for Sports Illustrated this week, detailing his battle with ALS with candor and humor, describing how he manages to still be a father to his young son Rivers, and his dreams for his charitable organization Team Gleason.
Team Gleason raises money to fund ALS research, to put technology into patients’ hands in order to increase their quality of life and to sponsor adventure trips for patients. Gleason’s philosophy is to never stop living.
His slogan of “No White Flags” is one he lives every day.
When Team Gleason takes ALS patients on adventure trips, like a recent hike of Machu Picchu, the deal is that anyone receiving a trip must help fulfill a wish for another ALS patient once they return home.
Gleason believes this helps give ALS patients a purpose in life, a reason to keep going. For more information, visit www.TeamGleason.org.
Team Gleason and Steve Gleason have had no comment on this situation.
However, the Saints Senior Vice President of Communicatins Greg Bensel issued this statement:
“The New Orleans Saints support Steve Gleason not only for what he means to our organization and our city, but more importantly what he means in his tremendous fight to find a cure for ALS. We have not heard the radio report, but if what is reported is accurate, it is grossly offensive.”