Steve Gleason Accepts Apology From 3 Atlanta DJs Who Mocked His ALS Symptoms
Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saintsplayer, accepted the apologies of three radio hosts who mocked his affliction with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
On the morning Mayhem In The AM program on Atlanta radio station 790 The Zone, hosts Steak Shapiro, Chris Dimino and Nick Cellini made fun of Gleason, 36, in a skit. Two of the hosts took a call from the third, who pretended to be Gleason and spoke in an automated voice. Given that Gleason can’t speak due to his disease, some have speculated that they were also mimicking physicist Stephen Hawking, who has a related disease.
The radio station put out a statement that same day, apologizing to Gleason and noting that it had fired the hosts. “We deeply regret the offensive programming that aired this morning on Mayhem In The AM on 790 The Zone, related to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment,” Rick Mack, senior vice president and general manager of the station, wrote. “790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS.”
Shapiro apologized for his behavior. “I love the people and city of New Orleans, always have, always will, @team_gleason I will work tirelessly to make this up to you…,” he Tweeted. Dimino, too, took to his Twitter to apologize. “I have so many people I have to apologize to. I know this is not who I am…but it is who I am today. An apology here means nothing if I…/Don't reach out to all the people I need to. I am in that process as we speak. Friends and family and most importantly those I know I hurt” he wrote in two tweets. Cellini has vowed to donate future earnings to Team Gleason, an organization founded by Gleason to help others afflicted with ALS.
Gleason, as a result of ALS, is unable to speak or move. He posts on social media through his eyes, using a computer-tracking device.
Gleason accepted the apology on Tuesday in a status on the “Team Gleason” Facebook page. “Regarding the DJ skit in Atlanta yesterday. I would like to thank the public for their support. ‘Defend Team Gleason’ now has been officially redefined. Additionally, the DJs have provided genuine apology. Received and accepted,” he wrote. He expressed hope that supporters wouldn’t lash out, but instead help the cause. “There are zero treatments for ALS. If you take any action as a result of this event, I prefer it to be action to end ALS.”
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. ALS is a motor neuron disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It causes weakness, muscle atrophy and difficulty speaking, swallowing and breathing.
Gleason played for the New Orleans Saints from 2000—2007. In 2011, he received the Super Bowl ring from the Saints and was given the Key to the City by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.