Friday, October 16, 2015

With Steve Gleason there, Michael Mauti makes Superdome moment

The Saints were simply trying to overcome a 1-4 start, and not one of the worst natural disasters in human history.

But for Saints special teamer Michael Mauti, to make a play like last night with Steve Gleason watching from the sidelines made his own blocked punt a memorable one.

Mauti’s a local kid, and was playing for Mandeville High School when Gleason’s blocked punt which was returned for a touchdown became a beacon for Saints fans, in the first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.

“That was probably the most electric sports venue I have ever been at,” Mauti said, via Jim Derry of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I get goose bumps when I think about it, just a numbing sound. I have always looked up to Steve Gleason; he’s a hero of mine. It’s so special that he got to be here, and I grew up wanting to be like him. . . .

“This has always been a dream of mine, playing in the NFL anywhere, but if you would have asked me three months ago I wouldn’t have told you I’d be here. You never know how the story is going to play out. You just keep working and see what happens.”

Gleason, who is battling ALS, was there last night to receive the George Halas Award he won in June from the PFWA, and his presence created an immediate buzz in the building again.

So while Mauti’s play might not have had the historical significance, it did give the Saints a two-touchdown lead in a game in which they’d never look back.

“Obviously that was a huge play in the game,” Drew Brees said. “It gave us a two-possession lead and the whole stadium erupts. And it was great that Steve was here to see that.”

And it was great for Mauti, a local kid whose father played wide receiver for the Saints, to provide his hometown team with another moment to remember.

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