gleasonFormer NFL player Steve Gleason never played in the Super Bowl, but he’ll be making an appearance on Sunday’s broadcast, as part of Microsoft’s first-ever national Super Bowl ad. (Yes, I was skeptical, too, but a Microsoft spokesman says the company has never before aired a national ad during the big game.)

Gleason is famous for a key blocked punt during the New Orleans Saints’ first home game after Hurricane Katrina. He has ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and uses Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet to run eye-tracking technology that allows him to speak via the computer.

He is one of several inspiring people whose use of Microsoft technology will be showcased in Microsoft’s Super Bowl ad during the game.

The ad will direct viewers to a site featuring videos telling the story of each person in more detail. The ad itself isn’t yet public, but the videos of Gleason and 5-year-old Braylon O’Neill are below. If these vignettes are any indication of the emotional power of the actual ad, fans of the Denver Broncos won’t be the only ones holding back tears during the game. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. Go Hawks!)

[Related Post: Comic: How the Seahawks could help Microsoft]

Update, Feb. 2: Here’s the commercial that will air today during the Super Bowl:

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • Guest

    Steve Gleason, legendary Coug from Spokane and incredible NFL player for the Saints. Glad to see technology is helping him communicate and get around. I can’t even imagine the lifestyle change he’s had recently.

    I’m a bit curious as to how this ad helps Microsoft as the tech is from and you can also use for the same thing, both can work with multiple platforms, not specific to MSFT stuff.

    • LeTronk

      This ad helps MS because 90% of the people out there don’t know that this tech mostly runs on anything but Windows. So now in their minds it only runs on Windows. It’s promoting MS because people like things more when they associate it with good works. This ad really has nothing to do with the tech itself, but it brands MS in people’s minds as “a company that cares”.

    • Pradeep V

      It is not available on any other platform for now.. Tobii is working on OSX support and there is no OSX tablet available right now..

  • Madonna Long

    Technology is amazing with MS,but lets talk about what it took for his chair and that technology to work. Durable Medical Equipment Manufacturers (make his power wheelchair) had to make sure that technology worked with his Power Wheelchair, it has to fit on his chair. New laws through medicare affect how people who need mobility products can receive products and services for their power wheelchairs. And Steve needs his power chair to get around and to use the technology that it is equipped with because he relies on it to be with his family and his mobility. What if he did not have someone to fix that power chair?? what if he could not get someone to fix his battery for his chair because the providers were effected by current laws? He has no technology now. Many people who use mobility products and need these products are in danger of just getting the services they need due to competitive bidding laws. I am so happy to see him in his chair living his life with the use of technology. Did you know that most insurances won’t pay for those cool things, they say there is no medical need for it. But many like me who work on those issues say there is a functional need… Just look at him with his family, and that is the independence to be a dad and part of his community the way life should be..

    • Rif

      I ran the NYC Marathon for wizzkids a UK charity that gives a good and useful chair to kids to live their lives.

  • Victor Bergonzoli

    Dartfish is the company behind the software used in the “Making Strides” story. While our app was chosen for the launch of Ipad Air, we are very proud of this one. Our professional software rely on windows OS and its powerful tool set & distribution.

  • Fay Butler

    A neighbor has ALS. It is awful!

  • LLinLa

    God be with you, Steve!

  • Caroline B

    Steve is using PEAC to control his home (lights, TV, music, doors, blinds, AC) through his tablet just using his eyes. It’s amazing!

Job Listings on GeekWork