Steve Gleason, with Will Smith (left) and Drew Brees on Sunday. (Gerald Herbert / AP)

Gleason, who retired in 2008 and is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), was presented with a Super Bowl ring and key to the city at a party attended by many of his former teammates, including Drew Brees, Scott Fujita and Deuce McAllister.

“This isn’t about Steve having ALS,” Fujita said. “This is about Steve and his contribution to the 2009 team and the [Super Bowl XLIV] championship. He deserved it.”

Gleason on Sunday. (Mike Stewart / AP)

“At the beginning of the game. I never knew if we were going to win or lose, but I was always for certain that I was going to walk out of there with my head held high because I got ready, I had the right people around me, and I was going to give it everything I had,” Gleason said. “It’s the same now. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got. I have a calming sense of certainty that we’re going to win this thing.”

ALS is a neurological disease for which there is not yet a cure.