In the “Rebirth” statue that was unveiled last week, former Saints safety Steve Gleason is cast in bronze, blocking the punt of a player with no markings on him.
The play was against the Falcons, but there’s no way to know that from the artwork.
But Falcons president Rich McKay told Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com the decision was made in consultation with the league.
“We never intended to offend the New Orleans fans and we certainly didn’t intend to make light of the moment, which was truly special,’’ McKay said.
The play was in the first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, when Gleason’s block of a Michael Koenen punt was returned for a touchdown by Curtis Deloatch, an early, emotional turn for a city that needed one.
The initial report from the New Orleans Times-Picayune said the Falcons didn’t want to participate in the statue, but McKay explained that was not the case.
“The first thing that happens in a request for marks is that it has to go to the league because we don’t own the marks,’’ McKay said. “The league does for anything outside of our market. When they brought it to us, we discussed it with them and we came to the conclusion that, obviously the fact they’re honoring the moment is fantastic. We were all there. It was an incredible moment for the city. It was not something that we wanted to memorialize the game.
“So we kind of looked at it as though we didn’t want necessarily a statue in front of the building that had our marks. Albeit, we all understand how important the moment was for the city and what they had gone through. We all lived in that moment and it was a pretty special thing. Even losing, it was still a pretty special thing.
“But it was just something that when we talked to the league about it, we said we didn’t think it was appropriate to put the marks on it. Everybody knew what the game was. Everybody knew what the moment was.”
McKay also said owner Arthur Blank was never involved in the process.
To be honest, it doesn’t matter if the Falcons are depicted or not. That moment was about New Orleans, and its comeback.
The authenticity that’s lacking doesn’t detract from that at all.