Gleason’s WSU return inspires Cougars


Posted on November 16, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 16 at 7:57 PM

The most inspiring part of WSU's win over Arizona State on Saturday wasn't the cougars beating a favored Pac-12 team. Rather, it was a visit from a former Cougar who had worn the uniform in 11 years.

Steve Gleason helped lead the Cougars to the Rose Bowl as a linebacker over a decade ago. He spent eight years in the NFL as a kamikaze special teams player for the New Orleans Saints.

Gleason came back to Pullman Saturday to serve as honorary team captain and to address the team before the game.

He talked to the team not just as a former player but as someone facing a new challenge.
In January Steve was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS.
ALS is a rare, terminal condition that damages the nerves that control voluntary muscle movement.
Steve isn't doing any on camera interviews yet, but we spoke to him today about his Pullman visit.
We asked him what he shared with the team before the game.

He said he told them "it's not about winning or losing football games.  The most important thing is how you treat other people and the relationships you develop as you move through life.  That's what I want you to remember." 

He received a jersey from the equipment manager and told the team "I’m not going to wear that jersey tonight for fun.  I wouldn't wear it unless I think you could win.  I'm wearing it because I believe in you."

The Cougars believed as well, pulling off the upset.
Steve has started a group called Team Gleason.  Part of Team Gleason is a non-profit designed to raise awareness about ALS and raise funds for services and equipment for ALS patients. The other part is to help support Steve's family with donations and notes of support. For more information click here.