Rare Disease Report

Former NFL Players Tackling ALS

AUGUST 03, 2016
Andrew Black
Former NFL linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, Tim Shaw who is diagnosed with ALS, came out of retirement for a day to sign an honorary “Titan for life” contract.
Shaw was diagnosed with ALS in 2014, only two years after his last NFL season. He announced having the disease during his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the Tennessee Titans video (see below) in 2014. The former NFL player who once threw his body around to tackle ball carriers and quarterbacks, now has trouble with daily activities such as brushing his own teeth and putting on his own socks as he deals with the disease.
Head coach Mike Mularkey didn’t tell his team about the signing and kept it a surprise. The room was packed when Mularkey began addressing the team about roster moves, and the plan to add a player. After saying the team intended to add a linebacker/special teams performer, Robinson opened the door and Shaw walked in to sign his contract
 "It is going to make a difference in my life, but really it is going to make a difference in more peoples' lives because the ALS community needs recognition and we need support like this. ... It really does mean the world” Shaw told the Titan’s website.
Now as a Titan for life, Tim Shaw hopes that others will hear this story to raise a greater awareness of ALS so people will donate to fundraisers and charities to make advances in research for a cure.

Steve Gleason

Shaw wasn’t the only football player who found out they had ALS shortly after their NFL career. Steve Gleason of the New Orleans Saints who ended his career in 2008, was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 as well. Steve is determined to inspire others by continuing to pursue life adventures despite his diagnosis, and has challenged the worlds of technology and science to identify their most promising developments toward new treatments and a cure.

Raising Awareness

Gleason started Team Gleason to generate public awareness for ALS, raise funding to empower those with ALS to live a rewarding life, and ultimately find a cure. He also has a new movie released about his life’s journey of being in the NFL, to being diagnosed with ALS while him and his wife prepare for a newborn.  
Steve Gleason also created The Gleason Initiative Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit corporation to help provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with leading edge technology, equipment and services, create a global conversation about ALS to ultimately find solutions and an end to the disease and to raise public awareness toward ALS by providing and documenting extraordinary life adventures for individuals with muscular diseases or injuries.

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