Three hosts of a New Orleans radio show were fired after making fun of former Saints safety Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2011. The hosts made improper comments and suggested that Gleason should be put out of his misery, given that he cannot move and can only communicate by blinking.
"Knock, knock," one of the hosts said during the show.
"Who's there?" the other replied.
"Smother," the first host said.
"Smother who?" came the familiar reply.
"Smother me, do me a favor?" the host said, pretending to be Gleason.
It was one of a series of jokes and imitations that angered the public and caused a backlash against the DJs. The station lists Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro, and Chris Dimino as the three hosts but station manager Rick Mack did not publicly state which ones have been let go.
"My apologies to everyone," Nick Cellini tweeted. "It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid."
"I have so many people I have to apologize to," said Chris Dimino. "I know this is not who I am… but it is who I am today. An apology here means nothing if I… Don't reach out to all the people I need to. I am in that process as we speak. Friends and family and most importantly those I know I hurt."
"I love the people and city of New Orleans, always have, always will, @team_gleason, I will work tirelessly to make this up to you… What a moronic 2 mins, I am truly sorry… ALS not a joke, bit or game. 20 yrs on the air, 2 bad mins on a show, look at the whole picture I hope. Zone was a great ride," Steak Shapiro tweeted.
Gleason wrote an article describing his life with ALS for "Sports Illustrated" on the same day that the radio hosts provided their commentary.
"I type with my eyes," Gleason wrote. "Not only that, I navigate my computer, create and play music, keep a calendar, conference call, lead web X meetings, text, and obviously, tweet with my eyes."
"ALS does not does not affect cognitive process. Stephen Hawking, one of the smartest people on the planet, has ALS. I think we will find a cure only when the world clearly understands what ALS does and how to help," Gleason added.
He provided the challenge to readers to get into a sleeping bag headfirst, zip it all the way up, and try to floss their teeth or do some other activity. That feeling of constriction is what Gleason says he feels every single day, and it only gets worse as the disease progresses.