Saints icon Steve Gleason, who will be profiled on tonight’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (9:00 p.m. ET) has clarified in advance of the debut of the piece a key quote that has been attributed to him via subtitles used by HBO.
In an email to Peter King of SI.com, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and PFT, Gleason calls HBO’s effort to characterize his words the “misquote of the week.”
When talking about the notorious pregame comments of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from January’s postseason loss to the 49ers, the HBO subtitles applied to Gleason’s words from the “rough cut” of the show indicate that the former Saint was bothered by the reaction of the current members of the Saints to Williams’ “kill the head” rant.
As subtitled by HBO, Gleason said: “The real problem was no one seemed shocked. There as no discussion of ‘Wow, did we just hear that?’”
Gleason says in his email that his actual words were, “The group I was with . . . no one seemed shocked.” Obviously, this would dramatically narrow the breadth of the response, exempting Saints players and coaches and other team employees who were in the room.
Though it’s not our desire or role to defend HBO, the network’s characterization seems reasonable in light of the context. Gleason was responding specifically to this: “Was there any discussion afterward when the meeting was over and those players saw you, did anybody say, ‘Wow, that was kind of tough Steve, I’m sorry you had to hear that.’?”
And then after Gleason’s response the question was, “Nobody seemed shocked to hear that come out of the coaches mouth?”
Said Gleason: “No, there was no discussion of, ‘Wow, did we just hear that?”
That said, listening to the words that Gleason uttered without reading the subtitles, it appears that he said, “The group I was with . . . no one seemed shocked.”
With the show debuting later tonight, this is something that HBO and Gleason need to get worked out.
Gleason also adds in his email this observation regarding the Williams speech: “In my opinion, speeches like the one given by Gregg Williams are not the cause of increased rate of brain disease in the NFL population. The increased rate of brain disease In the NFL population is caused by the way the game is played within the rules.”
That may be a more significant comment than anything Gleason told HBO on camera.