O.J. Brigance and Steve Gleason are brothers in arms in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Both are retired NFL players who are battling the debilitating motor neuron and muscle disease that has no known cure and is commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.
ALS was in the spotlight this week when three Atlanta radio hosts were fired for a tasteless skit ridiculing Gleason, a former New Orleans Saints safety. They subsequently apologized and offered to donate to Team Gleason, Gleason's foundation that supports ALS research.
In the wake of the incident, Brigance, a former Ravens linebacker who's now the Ravens' senior adviser for player development, has weighed in on the situation.
"The skit was in very poor taste," Brigance said in a statement emailed to The Baltimore Sun. "I was very pleased the radio hosts realized how inappropriate their comments were and apologized. Hopefully, this situation will serve as a reminder to all of us to think before we speak. Allow our words and actions to build others up, not tear down!
"All things work together for those who love God and are called to his purpose. I am extremely proud of what Steve and Team Gleason have done in the fight against ALS. Even in the face of controversy he brings awareness to our plight. The Peter King article was an amazing piece and set the table to greater achievement and this incident only heightens the awareness of our efforts."
Gleason wrote a guest column for King's Sports Illustrated Monday Morning Quarterback the same day that the Atlanta 790 The Zone show ran a segment where someone pretending to be Gleason told knock-knock jokes and said: "smother me and put me out of my misery."
Gleason, who speaks with a computerized voice and can post his thoughts through a computer tracking apparatus, wrote a statement on the Team Gleason Facebook page.
"Regarding the DJ skit in Atlanta yesterday. I would like to thank the public for their support," Gleason wrote. " '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.
"I think everyone can learn from this event. It's clear to me that, on a national & global scale, ALS is not understood, which is part of why it's underfunded and largely ignored. In the past 36 hours lots of people have been talking. Let's talk about this There are zero treatments for ALS. If you take any action as a result of this event, I prefer it to be action to end ALS. See what we are doing to change that @ teamgleason.org. SG"
The station is the flagship for Atlanta Falcons' broadcasts.
Although they had no involvement in the incident, they release a statement condemning what happened.
"The Falcons are disappointed in the comments made about former Saints player Steve Gleason on a local Atlanta radio station Monday morning," the statement said. "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."
For more information about Brigance's charitable foundation, Brigance Brigade, go to his website at: http://www.brigancebrigade.org/
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