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Three Atlanta radio hosts fired for making fun of Steve Gleason

EntertainmentRadioRadio IndustryDiseases and IllnessesAtlanta FalconsNew Orleans SaintsSports Illustrated

Three Atlanta radio hosts were fired Monday evening after making fun of former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, who is now confined to a wheelchair as he battles ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Gleason wrote a column for Sports Illustrated that appeared Monday detailing his battle with the terminal disease. Gleason has lost most of his motor skills and has to communicate with a computerized device that lets him write and speak using only his eyes.

The three radio hosts, Steve Shapiro, Nick Cellini and Chris Dimino, thought Gleason's disease would be good fodder for a skit on their radio show on 790 The Zone in Atlanta.

The three did a mock interview with Gleason, complete with a fake robotic voice. At one point in the segment, the fake Gleason started a "knock knock" joke, with the "joke" being: "Smother." "Smother Who?" "Smother me. Do me a favor."

And that's probably the most tasteful part of the skit.

A few hours after the show ended, the radio station fired the three hosts and released the following statement:

"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 station also happens to be the radio home of the Atlanta Falcons, who also released a statement Monday:

“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.”

After being fired, Cellini sent the following Tweet:

I have personally apologized to Steve Gleason & am profoundly sorry for the ill humored comments from today's show.

— Nick Cellini (@NickCellini) June 18, 2013

Dimino sent the following Tweets:

I have so.many people I have to apologize to. I know this is not who I am...but it is who I am today. An apology here means nothing if I...

— Chris Dimino (@chrisdimino) June 17, 2013

Don't reach out to all the people I need to. I am in that process as we speak. Friends and family and most importantly those I know I hurt

— Chris Dimino (@chrisdimino) June 17, 2013

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