Lots of stadiums all over America have statues of famous former players no doubt beloved by the fans.
The plaza level of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome now sports a sculpture that, while honoring a player, also is about a moment in time.
Based on some of the comments I heard from people Friday, many fans may think of the “Rebirth” sculpture as the “Gleason statue.” Indeed, it depicts that famous moment, on September 25, 2006, when Steve Gleason stepped in front of Michael Koenen and made the Falcons punter a footnote in Saints history. The Saints scored, the dome erupted.
Gleason, who has inspired the city once again with his brave fight against ALS, talked Friday about that moment as one of “resurgence.” It has come to symbolize the city announcing to the world that, not only were the Saints back in the Superdome, but the city was back, open for business, re-energized, resilient. In that sense, this sculpture depicts a player, a play, and a moment in time.
The entire Saints team turned out for the unveiling, dodging raindrops and eventually being driven inside by a lighting storm. It was fitting, perhaps, that on the day this particular sculpture was dedicated, there would be obstacles to overcome.
“Everyone felt the same way when that (kick) was blocked,” said Saints owner Tom Benson. ”Our city is coming back.”
Brian Hanlon, the sculptor, said he his aim was not to “decorate landscapes with sculptures. I want to create meaningful markers. This is a meaningful marker.”
Hanlon captures the instant in time when Gleason made contact with the ball, an image frozen in the minds of the Saints nation– and now, immortalized in bronze.