Three sports talk radio hosts on Atlanta’s 790 The Zone have been fired as the result of a sick on-air joke poking fun at former Saints safety, Steve Gleason, who now suffers from ALS.
The trio of hosts, who haven’t been mentioned much by name — Stephen “Steak” Shapiro, Nick Cellino, and Chris Dimino — staged a skit in which one of them pretended to be Gleason calling in. It featured knock-knock jokes and a reference to smothering, and at no particular time was any of it remotely funny.
You can listen to the audio here (WARNING: This is painfully awful to listen to and your intelligence will be greatly insulted)
The backlash was immediate. First the hosts were suspended “indefinitely,” according to the station’s website. They were later fired.
“We deeply regret the offensive programming that aired this morning on “Mayhem In The AM” on 790 The Zone, related to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment. 790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS.”
— Rick Mack, 790 The Zone Sr. VP & General Manager
The Atlanta Falcons, whose games are broadcast on 790 The Zone, also released a statement:
“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.”
What started the bit in the first place was Gleason filling in for Peter King in today’s Monday Morning Quarterback, in what must have been a painstaking story to write.
Gleason no longer has use of his hands due to his body being ravaged by ALS. He spent over four hours typing a 4,500-word column utilizing eye-tracking technology. The column was incredibly thought-provoking and may be one of the best pieces written by a player.
It’s easy to see why Gleason is adored not only by Saints fans but people from all over.
Perhaps the most touching part of his column was this:
“So, I have conjured my own meaning from my circumstance, if in fact football did cause my ALS. It means to me that I gave my life helping a city and a region in ruins find some hope in their struggle for rebirth. I will never regret that.”
Hopefully these now-jobless knuckleheads regret their actions today.
You can learn more about Gleason’s foundation here.