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Michael Koenen doesn’t mind being part of Saints’ “Rebirth”

GLEASON STATUE AP

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.

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3 Responses to “Michael Koenen doesn’t mind being part of Saints’ “Rebirth””
  1. sterilizecromartie says: Aug 2, 2012 10:12 AM

    The Falcons were actually doing them a favor by declining to have their logo/name anywhere near it. They should be applauded for turning attention away from themselves by giving the punter a “nameless” quality and directing all the attention solely at Gleason and the Saints.

    Just thought I would make that clear because some of these articles make it seem like Atlanta is slighting the Saints and the statue by doing what they did.

  2. bucrightoff says: Aug 2, 2012 10:24 AM

    He was the Bucs co-MVP last year with Connor Barth….man last year sucked. Still he’s a great guy so no surprise he’s got a great attitude about this. Hopefully he’s not MVP again this year, no disrespect.

  3. darthsaint says: Aug 2, 2012 11:12 AM

    Classy move Koenen! And I agree, the statue should be just about the Saints. It is perfect the way it is. The stories are about a whole lot of nothing. That moment was all about the Saints coming back. And in retrospect, Gleasons greatest memory as a Saint.

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