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Defying the Odds

Mandeville High alumnus and current New Orleans Saints linebacker Michael Mauti was unsure if he'd ever play football again. The former Skipper and Penn State standout had battled ulcerative colitis for much of his playing career, but his 2016 ended prematurely when doctors told him he needed surgery.

Mauti underwent multiple surgeries to remove his large intestine, and the road back to the football field began. He wasn't on the Saints' 53-man roster to open the regular season, but he did sign with the Saints prior to the start of training camp. However, Mauti was cut and he was left wondering what was next. Despite the odds against him, Mauti persisted and when the Saints had a roster opening in October, the Mandeville native stepped in and he continues to be a playmaker.

On December 13, Mauti's teammates recognized him for his courage and determination to return to football after overcoming UC by voting him as the Saints' 2017 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.

"As someone who struggled with Ulcerative Colitis on and off the field for years, I'm grateful to help bring awareness and help provide resources for the many people out there struggling with IBD," Mauti told "My cleats, which I wore during My Cause My Cleats week, featured the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, because itís important to recognize the need to raise awareness and money to help fund research to hopefully one day find cures for these diseases, and Colitis Ninja, a great information resource for people to share their stories, as well as raise awareness to help people fight these diseases together."

Mauti will be honored, along with recipients of the other 31 NFL teams, at the annual Ed Block Courage Awards in Baltimore, Maryland, in the spring of 2018.

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