Sportress of Blogitude

Saints unveil statue celebrating blocked punt in first game home post-Katrina (pic)

On Friday morning, the New Orleans Saints officially unveiled “Rebirth,” a statue that celebrates and commemorates Steve Gleason’s blocked punt in the Saints first home game back in Superdome after the team was displaced due to the devastation caused to the region by Hurricane Katrina.

The game, played out in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football and  perhaps one of the biggest moments in the team’s history, occurred on Sept. 26, 2006, 21 months after the Saints last played a game in the Superdome. In the first quarter, Steve Gleason blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone by Curtis Deloatch for the game’s first score, a touchdown that unleashed a cathartic explosion of celebration for not only those in the stadium, but all residents of New Orleans and the surrounding region.

Video and some statements from Gleason and Saints owner Tom Benson follow.

Said Tom Benson at the unveiling:

“This statue is symbolic of the Rebirth of our city, our region, our home, our team. This statue reminds us of a cherished night and one of the most amazing plays in the proud history of this franchise. It will be here for everyone to view coming into, out of or past the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to see and rekindle the feelings we shared that evening. This statue will be an everlasting tribute to the spirit of the ‘Rebirth’ legacy and what it stands for and of Steve’s lasting impact on the lives he has helped touch and inspire.”

 Added a modest Gleason, who is embroiled in a terrible battle with the disease ALS:

“I don’t want this to be about me and that play. I want it to be about what that play symbolized, which was a commitment by this community to rebuild. This statue is about coming through adversity. It’s about finding your heroes. It’s about commitment and a rebirth for all.

The statue will set on southwest plaza of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. No finer tribute can I think of; not only that wondrous moment but also to the man who is forever linked to that night and will be connected to the lore of the Saints following Hurricane Katrina for years to come.

[The Examiner, image via @Saints]