The Falcons might not have wanted to be in the Saints’ statue, but their former punter said he doesn’t mind at all.
Michael Koenen, now with the Buccaneers, said he was honored to be a part of it.
The Saints’ “Rebirth” statue commemorates Steve Gleason’s blocked punt in the first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. Gleason’s now fighting ALS, and relies on a wheelchair as the disease takes its toll and limits his ability to move.
When he heard about last week’s unveiling, Koenen tweeted to Gleason: “Awesome day for an inspirational man . . . God bless you in your fight partner! Half of me likes your statue.”
Koenen was the guy trying to do the punting that fateful day, and said after meeting Gleason last year, he doesn’t mind being cast that way.
“He’s got an amazing fight on his hands, and he’s a real quality guy,” Koenen told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. “I have no problem with celebrating somebody’s triumph.”
Koenen’s not identified in the sculpture because the Falcons (after consulting with the league) weren’t comfortable with their marks being used.
“At the time, it was very frustrating, and I never want that again,” Koenen said of the blocked punt. “But for him, I’d never change it. And I’m happy for them. I’m glad they’re able to celebrate.”
Koenen said he wants to check out the statue when the Bucs go to New Orleans Dec. 16. And with a little luck, it’s the last time he has to see such a play again.