The Pro Football Writers of America have given their 2015 George Halas Award to former New Orleans Saints special teamer Steve Gleason. The award is given to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes adversity in one form or another. It's a broad award, with this year's finalists including Devon Still, Rolando McClain, Rob Gronkowski and Chris Harris Jr.
Few people know adversity like Gleason, who was diagnosed in 2011 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Gleason's public battle with ALS serves as inspiration to many around the world, and Gleason himself has also been very active in raising funds and awareness via his Gleason Initiative Foundation and Team Gleason organization.
The award is named after Halas, a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1953. Gleason is the 46th Halas Award winner, and the third member of the Saints franchise alongside Tom Dempsey and Drew Brees.
Gleason has done a lot for people who suffer from ALS and other similar diseases, including getting the Steve Gleason Act of 2015 in front of the U.S. Senate, where it passed and now needs to be passed by the House of Representatives. The act would make speech-generating devices available to patients through Medicare and Medicaid.
Gleason joined the Saints in 2000 and played until he retired from football in March 2008, though he missed the entire 2007 season with a knee injury. He was a solid special teams player and had four blocked punts over the course of his career. He was also a captain of the special teams units.
There's more information about Gleason, his struggle and the great things he's done at the PFWA's website.