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790 The Zone hosts fired after mocking of New Orleans player's battle with ALS

12:52 PM, Jun 19, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Steve Gleason mocking gets DJs fired

Video: Radio hosts fired for mocking former NFL player's ALS battle

NFL player Scott Fujita and former NFL player Steve Gleason attend The Giving Back Fund's 4th Annual Big Game Big Give Super Bowl Celebration on February 2, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Giving Back Fund)

ATLANTA -- The hosts of Atlanta's "Mayhem in the A.M." radio show on 790 the Zone have been fired.

This follows comments about former Saints player Steve Gleason who is battling with ALS.

The 36-year-old was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in January 2011 and has now lost most of his motor skills, forcing him to communicate solely with a computerized device that lets him write and speak using only his eyes.

Several morning show hosts from Atlanta's 790 The Zone made fun of Gleason's condition Monday morning.  The program's three hosts did a mock interview with Gleason, imitating a robotic voice and poking fun at things that someone suffering from ALS might say.

The radio station posted this on its website:

"We deeply regret the offensive programming that aired this morning on "Mayhem In The AM" on 790 The Zone, related to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment. 790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS."

The Falcons also released a statement on their website regarding the hosts' comments about Gleason:

"The Falcons are disappointed in the comments made about former Saints player Steve Gleason on a local Atlanta radio station Monday morning. The content concerning Mr. Gleason was completely inappropriate and is not representative of the views of the Falcons organization, nor does it represent the way we conduct our business on and off the field. To single out Steve the way he was this morning is totally lacking in taste and discretion."

One of the hosts, Nick Cellini, later tweeted his apology, saying he is "profoundly sorry for the ill-humored comments from today's show," adding that he has personally reached out to Gleason and his wife. On the firing, he tweeted: "got what I deserved."

Rick Mack, Sr. Vice-President and General Manager of 790 The Zone, told 11Alive's Blayne Alexander the station has not yet determined how to fill the four hour time slot. He said the immediate fill-in would likely come from current staff, but did not have details of a long-term replacement. 

A Saints message board first reported the segment, which was then tweeted by Gleason's good friend and former Saints teammate Scott Fujita (@sfujita55).

I'm going to reserve judgment until I hear this morning's playback from @790TheZone. But right now I'm enraged.

Tuesday afternoon, Steve Gleason posted a response on the official Team Gleason Facebook page.

Regarding the DJ skit in Atlanta yesterday. I would like to thank the public for their support. 'Defend Team Gleason' now has been officially redefined. Additionally, the DJs have provided genuine apology. Received and accepted. We have all made mistakes in this life. How we learn from our mistakes is the measure of who we are.

I think everyone can learn from this event. Its clear to me that, on a national & global scale, ALS is not understood, which is part of why its under funded and largely ignored. In the past 36 hours lots of people have been talking. Lets talk about this... There are zero treatments for ALS. If you take any action as a result of this event, I prefer it to be action to end ALS. See what we are doing to change that @ teamgleason.org. SG

(USA Today)

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