NFL Films visits Gonzaga Prep for Steve Gleason documentary



Posted on September 26, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 26 at 6:54 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Steve Gleason’s courageous battle with ALS has been gaining national attention and now NFL Films is working on a documentary on his life. On Thursday, the film crew was on the campus of Gonzaga Prep.

The NFL Films crew is gathering interviews with key people in Gleason's life for an hour-long documentary series called "A Football Life."

Charlie Askew is the director of the project.  On Thursday, he interviewed Gleason's defensive coordinator at Gonzaga Prep from 1992-94,  H.T. Higgins, about the former Gonzaga Prep star who went on to play at WSU and the New Orleans Saints.

"We're diving deeper into his life and talking to his high school coaches, college coaches, his dad, his mom, his brother, people who can explain more about what makes Steve so special," said Askew.

“I’ve never been a part of anything quite like this before,” said Askew. "It's not just about football."

Askew saw Gleason's power to inspire through his own experience. He led an NFL Films crew in April documenting the Team Gleason journey to carry Gleason and another ALS patient 11 miles along Peru's rugged Inca Trail to the top of Machu Picchu, almost 8,000 feet above sea level. He said the shoot was unlike anything he has ever experienced.

"To carry these two grown men on goat trails or alpaca trails or whatever you want to call them, 18 to 24 inches wide with a sheer drop of thousands of feet, was unbelievable.  It's not like you're in the United States at Yellowstone and everything's got handrails, you're out there," said Askew.

It got dark with three hours still left in the hike, but the team pressed on lighting the dangerous trail with cell phones and a couple of head lamps.

"The Peruvian porters say you don't hike at night," said Askew.  "There's no ifs, ands or buts.  You just don't do it.  It's way too dangerous.  But Steve is like, 'We're not stopping.'"

Eventually Team Gleason reached the top safely.

"There's no quit in Team Gleason," said Askew.  "Their motto is 'no white flags.' And that's not just a bumper sticker."

Askew and his NFL Films crew traveled to Pullman later in the day to talk with Steve's mom and his college coaches.

No air date has been set for the documentary.