METAIRIE, La. -- After confessing that he was a Chicago Bears fan, President Barack Obama told former New Orleans Saints special-teams standout Steve Gleason that his blocked punt on the night the Superdome reopened in 2006 following Hurricane Katrina was "one of the most iconic plays in sports history."
Obama took time to meet with Gleason, his wife, Michel, and other members of the Team Gleason foundation Thursday, inviting them backstage after he gave a speech in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward to commemorate the upcoming 10th anniversary of Katrina.
Gleason has become a champion for those suffering from ALS and other neuromuscular diseases since being diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Last month, Obama signed the Steve Gleason Act into law, which will help make critical technology available to patients through Medicare and Medicaid.
"It was a moment," said Team Gleason's Clare Durrett. "ALS has been swept under the rug for decades. It was powerful to see someone living, despite ALS and maybe because of it, asked to 'Come backstage ... the president wants to meet you.'
"Steve deserved it. He's been fighting every day to show the world he and everyone with this brutal disease want to live. ALS did a metaphorical high-five today."
Obama also dropped in on Saints practice -- sort of -- when Air Force One skimmed over the top of the Saints' practice field just before landing late Thursday morning.