New Orleans didn’t make a playoff appearance for the first 20 season of their existence. Then once they did in 1987, they went on to lose in each of their first four Wild Card appearances. It wasn’t until their 33rd season that they finally broke through and won a playoff game (2000; 31-28 over the St. Louis Rams). New Orleans suffered 25 losing seasons from 1967-2005 and 8 seasons of 8-8 or 9-7 results. This is why they were dubbed the “Aint’s” by several of their own fan base, who also wore paper bags over their heads to their games. They have the second fewest wins (331) by any NFL team with 50 seasons or more.
But their more recent history, is one that they, and their fans in and around the French Quarter can be proud of. Since 200, they’ve had 5 winning seasons, won 3 Division titles, made the playoffs 5 times, and most importantly, won a Super Bowl (XLIV).
I’m not aware of their plans to celebrate their golden anniversary, but I’ll do so by naming the four people this franchise has to thank for making them revenant on and off the field. This is my Mount Rushmore for the New Orleans Saints.
- No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
- Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
- Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.
Drew Brees (2006-present) transformed New Orleans from the “Aint’s” into Champs. Brees arrived in the “Crescent City” coming off a potentially career ending shoulder injury on his throwing arm, and all he’s done is become one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. He’s the team’s all-time leader in passing yards (48,555), touchdown passes (348), wins by a QB (94), completions (4,240) and attempts (6,276). Brees holds 25 Saints passing records, and was MVP of the team’s only Super Bowl (XLIV) appearance and victory.
“Cool Brees” also holds 19 NFL passing records; most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (54), most seasons with 5,000+ passing yards (4), first quarterback to pass for 40 or more TD’s in consecutive seasons, first QB to pass for 3,000 passing yards by week 9, first to pass for 4,000 yards in the first 12 games of a season, and first to throw for 4,000+ yards in 10 straight seasons, among others. Combined with his time in San Diego, Brees has the 4th most passing yard total in NFL history (60,903).
Willie Roaf (1993-2001) was a 7-time Pro Bowl at offensive tackle in his time in New Orleans. He was a 5-time All-Pro, and a member of the NFL’s 1990’s and 2000’s All-Decade Teams. In 2012 he became the second Saint inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame base significantly on their time with the franchise.
Ricky Jackson (1981-1993) was the first true Saint player to get his bust in Canton. Along with Roaf, they are the only two Saints Hall of Famers who were inducted based on their time in New Orleans. Jackson was a 5-time Pro Bowl linebacker (1983-1986, 1992) and 5-time All-Pro (1984-1987, 1992) with the team. When he retired after the 1995 season, he held 3 NFL records, most opponents’ fumbles recovered (28), most sacks (128) and most opponents’ fumbles recovered in a season (7). After the 1993 season, his last with New Orleans, Jackson held 6 team records; most games (195), most sacks in a career (123), most seasons (13), most opponents’ fumbles recovered in a career (26), most opponents’ fumbles recovered in a season (7; 1990) and most sacks in a game (4, 2 times).
Sean Payton (2006-present) arrived along with Drew Brees, and together they changed the culture of New Orleans Saints football. His 87 wins are second in team history, and he’s on pace to pass Jim More (93) for first in 2016. He led the team to the playoffs in his first season with the team (2006) and won NFL Coach of the Year the same season. The Saints have made the playoffs in five of his nine seasons as coach, which included four consecutive appearances (2009-2013) and the team’s first Super Bowl appearance (2009; XLIV) and victory. The team had only made the playoffs five times before his hiring.
Who Dat Nation what do you think? Did I get it right or would you have gone with a different four? You would you choose and who would you cut?