Ex- NFL player with ALS responds after radio hosts fired for mocking him

Former NFL player Steve Gleason attends the Social Innovation Summit on May 30, 2013, in New York City. Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Social Innovation Summit

ATLANTAA day after the cast of an Atlanta sports radio show was fired for mocking Steve Gleason's battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the former Saints player issued a response.

Team Gleason, an organization named after the former NFL player, posted a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday, accepting the apologies of the radio hosts, and thanking those who defended Gleason.

"... I would like to thank the public for their support," the statement read. " 'Defend Team Gleason' now has been officially redefined. Additionally, the DJs have provided genuine apology. Received and accepted. We have all made mistakes in this life. How we learn from our mistakes is the measure of who we are."

Gleason, 36, suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS patients lose the ability to speak and move, which has happened to Gleason.

The show, Mayhem in the AM, was broadcast on 790 The Zone Monday morning.

In a statement Monday, General Manager Rick Mack said the station regrets comments made about ex-New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason.

Former NFL player Steve Gleason attends the Social Innovation Summit on May 30, 2013, in New York City.
Former NFL player Steve Gleason attends the Social Innovation Summit on May 30, 2013, in New York City.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Social Innovation Summit

"790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content," Mack said.

The station lists the hosts as Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro and Chris Dimino.

During the segment, two of the on-air personalities took a call from a third host who pretended to be Gleason by using a voice that sounded automated -- mimicking another famous ALS patient, Stephen Hawking.

The host pretending to be Gleason told a series of jokes and eventually asked the two others to do him a favor by smothering him.

All three took to Twitter Monday evening to apologize to fans and others who criticized the segment.

"My apologies to everyone. It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid," wrote Cellini.

Outrage over the comments poured in from across the country. CBS affiliate WWLTV in New Orleans reported on the infuriated reactions around the Saints' hometown.

"You don't do stuff like this, you don't talk about somebody who is dying," said New Orleans-based WWL Radio Host Deke Bellavia. "You just don't do it."

The Atlanta Falcons also issued a statement on the matter:

"The Falcons are disappointed in the comments made about former Saints player Steve Gleason on a local Atlanta radio station Monday morning. The content concerning Mr. Gleason was completely inappropriate and is not representative of the views of the Falcons organization, nor does it represent the way we conduct our business on and off the field. To single out Steve the way he was this morning is totally lacking in taste and discretion."

Gleason played for the Saints between 2000 and 2006. Team Gleason, an organization named after the former NFL player, is geared toward finding a cure for ALS, raising awareness of the disease and connecting patients to technology, equipment and services tailored to fit their needs.

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