After I headed through the revolving doors of 225 Liberty Street for the premiere of Director Clay Tweel’s, “Gleason,” I spotted actors Eric West and Tashiana Washington on the red carpet and listened to Orange Is the New Black actress Laura Gómez talk about Steve Gleason’s resolve and spirit.
Catching producer and former New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Fujita before he walked off the carpet, I asked him how his role in the documentary had changed his perspective on Steve’s story. He told me that it was “twofold.” First, he spoke of learning about the process of creating the documentary itself, mentioning that “it’s fascinating to see people being exposed to the story for the first time,” before looping around to greet Roger Goodell on the carpet.
Seeing Scott Fujita and Roger Goodell smile with one another in front of the camera was a significant moment on the red carpet. Let me explain by veering off topic into the NFL in the late 2000s. Scott Fujita was one of a few New Orleans players who was suspended by Goodell during “Bountygate,” in which New Orleans franchise members were accused of paying out bounties for injuring other players. Fujita and the rest of the players were ultimately exonerated.
Alongside more recognizable faces were Steve Gleason’s wife Michel and her parents, Paul and Jill Varisco. Paul Varisco spent a great deal of time around my end of the carpet. First, before joining Fujita and Goodell for a photograph, Clay Tweel stopped by to chat with Varisco out of the line of sight of cameras or microphones. Not long after, Michael Strahan approached Varisco to say hello and the two had a brief conversation about Strahan’s cousin having worked with Varisco in Dallas years ago. It was innocuous small talk above all, but it —1) Michael Strahan is hulkingly large. 2) Michael Strahan was among several other hulkingly large NFL players who had shown up for the event, several of which (the likes of Terrell Owens, Zak DeOssie, and Justin Tuck) had played on opposing teams of the Saints.
The film is now playing.