Can I Quote You On That?: HBO Turns Retired Saint Steve Gleason’s Words Around
In the world of sports journalism, misquoting what anyone says is a major no-no and will come back to bite you in the rear.
Steve Gleason isn't a first ballot Hall of Famer, you won't see his name and jersey number hanging from the rafters at any NFL stadium. But, you will find a bronze statue of Gleason directly outside the Mercedez-Bens Superdome in New Orleans for his crucial, heartwarming play that sent Who Dat Nation in a frenzy on a warm September night in 2006.
Gleason is responsible for blocking a punt, that was quickly recovered by the Saints' Curtis Deloatch, eventually scoring the first Saints touchdown in the renovated Superdome, the first game in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city a year earlier.
Gleason retired after the 2008 season, but he's still a household name worldwide for his efforts.
In 2011, Gleason revealed that he's fighting a battle that's bigger than blocking any punts, he told us he's suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease. Soon after he released details of his bout, filmmaker Sean Pamphilon followed Gleason around to document his day-to-day struggles. Soon, HBO saw interest in picking up this documentary for their hit sports television show 'Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel'.
At one point of the documentary, Gleason is shown video of former Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' rant before the Saints' eventual postseason loss to the San Francisco 49'ers where Williams instructs his players to "kill the head."
Initially Gleason is quoted as saying, "The real problem was no one seemed shocked. There was no discussion of, 'Wow, did we just hear that?" According to Gleason, words were omitted from that quote that HBO chose to transcribe. Gleason claims he really said, "The group I was with...no one seemed shocked." You're wondering what difference this makes? A huge one if you're Gleason, or any way involved in the New Orleans Saints. It tells us that that the entire Saints defensive staff was not all thinking the same thing Gleason had in mind, just the group of men he was around.
There was one other major blunder HBO committed, the release of audio from Williams' speech to the media. Gleason claims he's the rightful owner of that audio, and that Pamphilon released the tape without his permission.
In an e-mail sent to various media outlets, Gleason says, "In my opinion, speeches like the one given by Gregg Williams are not the cause of increased rate of brain disease in the NFL population. The increased rate of brain disease in the NFL population is caused by the way the game is played within the rules."