Bill Belichick after meeting with Steve Gleason: 'An inspiration to all of us'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick had reason to smile after Sunday's 36-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints, and it wasn't just because of the game. It's always nice for him to be able to catch up with former Saints DB Steve Gleason.

Adam Ney of WWL-TV took a snapshot of Belichick and Gleason after the game and shared it on Twitter late Monday night.

On Tuesday morning's conference call, Belichick was asked about the meeting with Gleason, who has been diagnosed with ALS.

"Steve and I have a mutual friend and he let me know that Steve was going to be at the game. I have a ton of respect for him," Belichick said. "It's a difficult situation that he's in, and his family, but he's a tremendous person and has great will. He's an inspiration to all of us."

Belichick's connection to Gleason was noted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune in the lead-up to Super Bowl XLVI in February 2012. Writer Jeff Duncan explained how Belichick's friendship with Steve Rehage, who was a replacement player for the New York Giants during the 1987 strike and has been a music promoter in New Orleans, brought Gleason and Belichick together. The coach was the Giants' defensive coordinator when he met Rehage.

As Duncan wrote, Rehage introduced Belichick to Gleason during the 2011 NFL owners meetings in New Orleans.

Said Belichick in Duncan's piece: "We, of course, competed against Gleason many times. It’s a tough sport. That kid has showed a lot of courage and toughness, the same thing he showed on the football field. It’s been an honor for me to meet him. I learned a lot in watching Gleason how to handle it. He’s just terrific."