Steve Gleason is a former Saints special-teams hero who was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in 2011. His physical state has deteriorated since then, but he remains incredibly active, leading a worldwide foundation dedicated to finding a cure and writing often about his condition. He's also a massive Pearl Jam fan—after growing up in Spokane, Washington, he barely had a choice—and the respect from the band is mutual, as this brilliant NFL Sunday Countdown piece showed yesterday. Gleason has become buddies with Mike McCready, Eddie Vedder, and the rest of the legendary group, and they asked him for an interview in advance of their new album, Lightning Bolt.
What happened was pretty incredible. Longtime PJ fans will know that Eddie has often sung about his absent father, but he actually tears up with Gleason when the subject is broached, revealing for the first time that his dad was a singer himself, who recorded at least four songs Eddie has uncovered. He wouldn't have shared this private information with anyone but Steve. And it's pretty powerful stuff.
Actually, the whole segment is one of the best things I've seen on ESPN in a while. Take a look: