When Jon Gruden hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, he was the youngest NFL head coach ever to accomplish the feat. Fired in 2009, he became a color analyst on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." As REAL SPORTS host Bryant Gumbel discovers, his passion for the game hasn't waned. Gruden, who turns 49 Aug. 17, arrives at the headquarters of his Fired Football Coaches Association every day at 4:00 a.m. and obsessively watches hours of game and practice film. His dedication to his new profession has paid off with a recent five-year extension and a broadcasting portfolio that includes the series "Jon Gruden's QB Camp." In this REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated collaboration, Gumbel travels to Tampa and tries to keep up with the high-energy, fast-rising broadcaster.
On Sept. 25, 2006, after playing an entire season away due to damages from Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Saints returned to the refurbished Superdome. On the fourth play of the game, special teamer Steve Gleason blocked a punt, resulting in a touchdown. That moment, which seemed to signal a new day for the long-struggling Saints and their city, has been commemorated with a recently unveiled statue of Gleason outside the stadium.
Three years after retiring in 2008, Gleason revealed he was battling ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and he is now confined to a wheelchair. Last year, the 35-year-old Gleason partnered with a filmmaker to document his experiences with the illness; Gleason found himself in the middle of the so-called Bountygate scandal when the production captured the infamous sound bites of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams instructing his players to inflict serious injury on the opposition.
Steve Gleason goes one-on-one with REAL SPORTS correspondent Jon Frankel to discuss his struggles with a brutal disease and address the alarming pre-game speech made by Gregg Williams.
PGA golfer Erik Compton is the only known pro athlete to undergo two heart transplants and return to competition. The 32-year-old Floridian was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy at age nine and underwent his first heart transplant at age 12, but a massive heart attack caused his second heart to fail in 2007. The former University of Georgia standout underwent another transplant surgery in 2008 and, remarkably, returned to compete in pro golf events five months later. After participating in PGA Tour events for years as a non-member, Compton won Nationwide's Mexico Open in June 2011 and fulfilled a longtime goal of securing a PGA Tour card for 2012. REAL SPORTS correspondent Frank Deford reconnects with this inspiring and determined competitor during his first season on the PGA Tour, and learns about the numerous health scares he's endured along the way.
Posted 12:00 AM | Aug 14, 2012