Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Michael Koenen has no problem being part of New Orleans Saints' statue

TAMPA — For Michael Koenen, there are few more frustrating plays a blocked punt.

But the Bucs punter said he's honored one of his failures has been immortalized by the Saints because he will forever be associated with a man who continues to inspire him.

Friday, the Saints unveiled a 9-foot bronze statue outside of the Superdome titled Rebirth. It depicts Steve Gleason fully outstretched in blocking a punt by Koenen — then with the Falcons — on Sept. 25, 2006. It sparked New Orleans' 23-3 victory in its first game at the rebuilt stadium damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Gleason, 38, who is retired and battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), said the statue symbolizes the perseverance of the city. Koenen, 30, met Gleason last year, when the Bucs played in New Orleans.

And when he heard about the ceremony, he tweeted him, "Awesome day for an inspirational man … God bless you in your fight partner! Half of me likes your statue."

"He's got an amazing fight on his hands, and he's a real quality guy," Koenen said Wednesday. "I have no problem with celebrating somebody's triumph."

The statue doesn't have Koenen's name or the Falcons logo on it because the team refused to grant the sculptor permission, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Falcons president Rich McKay told while it was an "incredible" moment for New Orleans, after discussing it with the league, they didn't believe it was appropriate to have their marks on it.

Koenen said he wouldn't have minded if they used his name, and might check out the statue when the Bucs head to New Orleans for a Dec. 16 game.

"At the time, it was very frustrating, and I never want that again," Koenen said of the blocked punt. "But for him, I'd never change it. And I'm happy for them. I'm glad they're able to celebrate."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Michael Koenen has no problem being part of New Orleans Saints' statue 08/01/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 8:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Snell to rejoin rotation Wednesday



  2. For starters: Rays lineup vs Orioles



  3. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  4. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.