Amidst Life-Threatening Ailment, Former Titans and Saints Ballers Set for Inspirational Return on Opening Weekend

Published 09/09/2023, 6:55 AM EDT

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Former Titans and Saints icons to captain the Titans-Saints game at Caesars Superdome. Two former NFL warriors, Tim Shaw of the Titans and Steve Gleason of the Saints, will march their teams onto the field and join in the pregame coin toss. The Caesars Superdome is the home stadium of the New Orleans Saints for the September 10 event.

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These two legends, now bound to wheelchairs by the relentless disease (a cruel affliction that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord), will take center stage for the pregame coin toss. Saints’ head coach Dennis Allen and Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel unanimously recognize the significance of this tribute to their respective clubs.

Titans-Saints’ rare occasion

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Gleason, who was hit with ALS in 2011, earned the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal for his tireless activism and generous charity work. Shaw’s ALS diagnosis came in 2014, cementing his status as a “Titan For Life” since 2016, complete with a locker at the team’s facility.

Representing the Titans, Tim Shaw stands as honorary team captain with the Titans’ 2023 leaders – Ryan Tannehill as the field general, Aaron Brewer, Derrick Henry, Jeffrey Simmons, and Kevin Byard. As he pondered on this rare occasion, Shaw voiced, “Being an honorary captain for a game would be cool, but what makes this so special is to be doing it with Steve.” Former safety Steve Gleason will join the Saints at the coin toss with the 2023 team captains – Derek Carr as the signal caller, Demario Davis, and Cameron Jordan.

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Nevertheless, Gleason’s iconic moment dates back to September 25, 2006, when he delivered a monumental blocked punt during the Superdome’s emotional reopening. Meanwhile, Shaw earned his stripes as a linebacker in the NFL, carving out a reputation as a tenacious player.

Tim Shaw & Steve Gleason’s NFL career

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At just 39 years old, Tim Shaw’s NFL journey began with the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. His career statistics include 128 total tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Evidently, Shaw played a pivotal role in 48 games over three seasons for the Titans, serving as their special teams captain in 2011 and 2012.

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At 46, Steve Gleason defied the odds and entered the NFL as an overlooked free agent with the Indianapolis Colts in 2000. He then carved his legacy with the Saints through the 2006 season. His NFL resume boasts 83 games played, 59 solo tackles, and 6 assisted tackles. Gleason received a Super Bowl ring from the Saints in September 2011, immortalizing his name in NFL history.

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However, in a statement by the Saints, the hope is that both Gleason and Shaw’s inspiring presence will serve as a beacon of hope and unity in Sunday’s game.

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Written by:

Mohammad Asif Ansari

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Mohammad Asif Ansari is an NFL writer at EssentiallySports, with a passion for bringing sports news to life through engaging content. As an ardent sports fan, Ansari likes to cover core sports angles. His latest article, “Dallas Cowboys Reportedly Making It Difficult for Aaron Rodgers to Pursue His Dream Team” got a hoard of interested sports readers.
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Edited by:

Mallika Singh

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