Pearl Jam’s rolling rock operas were Steve Gleason’s favorite albums growing up in Spokane during the mid-90’s. Lead singer Eddie Vedder’s trademark growl set the backdrop for a place to escape. Vedder was at the height of his career, and Gleason was a stud linebacker at Gonzaga Prep before playing at Washington State. In advance of Pearl Jam’s studio album, Thunderbolt, set for release Oct, 15, the band made a documentary in which a number of celebrities conducted interviews with current band members.
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 after a six-year NFL career with the New Orleans Saints. However, he didn’t allow the grim diagnosis to deter his lifestyle. He’s cultivated a friendship with the Seattle-based rockers while engineering his Team Gleason program that raises awareness about ALS.
In a poignant feature that ran Sunday on ESPN, Gleason sits down with Vedder, communicating through a computer that uses synthetic recordings of his own voice, to ask about fatherhood and leadership.