BY Adam Lewis 01:07PM 10/07/2013

WSU’s Gleason talks ALS, life with Pearl Jam

In an emotional interview with Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder featured Sunday on ESPN, Steve Gleason induced Vedder to open up, Barbara Walters-style.

Pearl Jam’s rolling rock operas were Steve Gleason’s favorite albums growing up in Spokane during the mid-90’s. Lead singer Eddie Vedder’s trademark growl set the backdrop for a place to escape. Vedder was at the height of his career, and Gleason was a stud linebacker at Gonzaga Prep before playing at Washington State. In advance of Pearl Jam’s studio album, Thunderbolt, set for release Oct, 15, the band made a documentary in which a number of celebrities conducted interviews with current band members.

Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 after a six-year NFL career with the New Orleans Saints. However, he didn’t allow the grim diagnosis to deter his lifestyle. He’s cultivated a friendship with the Seattle-based rockers while engineering his Team Gleason program that raises awareness about ALS.

In a poignant feature that ran Sunday on ESPN, Gleason sits down with Vedder,  communicating through a computer that uses synthetic recordings of his own voice, to ask about fatherhood and leadership.

Gleason’s famous blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons in the first game at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina struck the city ranks among the most important moments in franchise history.


  • davewakeman

    The parts about fathers and fatherhood were really touching. I know that in my own time, I have endured some of the same feelings that Eddie Vedder expressed about having to figure out what it means to be a good man.

    • Adam Lewis

      Thanks for sharing, Dave. Since I’m a sportswriter, (who doesn’t have to remain objective about music) I can say with no hesitation that a lot of what Eddie Vedder does is extremely impressive.