Gleason, who has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, received the ring from Saints coach Sean Payton during a surprise party at a St. Charles Avenue restaurant on Monday night.
A number of Gleason's old teammates, including Drew Brees, Scott Fujita and Deuce McAllister, shared the moment with family and friends.
Gleason told the gathering that he left every game, win or lose, with his head held high because he had prepared to the fullest and gave it everything he had. He said he'll approach life with ALS the same way.
After receiving the ring, Gleason stood up and delivered an emotional speech that produced both laughter and tears.
"At the beginning of the game, I never knew if we were going to win or lose, but I was always 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 got. And I have a calming sense of certainty that we're going to win this thing."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.