New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints


The New Orleans Saints are a professional
American football team based in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. They are currently
members of the South division of the National Football Conference of the National Football
League. The team was founded by John W. Mecom, Jr. and David Dixon and the city of New Orleans.
The Saints began play at Tulane Stadium in 1967.
The name ‘Saints’ is an allusion to November 1 being All Saints Day in the Catholic faith,
New Orleans’ large Catholic population, and the spiritual “When the Saints Go Marching
In”, which is strongly associated with New Orleans and often sung by fans at games. The
team’s primary colors are old gold and black; their logo is a simplified fleur-de-lis. They
played their home games in Tulane Stadium through the 1974 NFL season. The following
year, they moved to the new Louisiana Superdome. For most of their first 20 years, the Saints
were barely competitive, only getting to .500 twice. In 1987, they finished 12–3 and made
the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but lost to the Minnesota Vikings
44–10. The next season of 1988 would end with a 10–6 record, proving that the Saints
were a competitive team, and that 1987 was not a fluke. The Saints defeated the St. Louis
Rams 31–28 in 2000 to notch their first-ever playoff win.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and, indeed, much of the Gulf Coast
region. The Superdome was used as an emergency temporary shelter for displaced residents.
The stadium suffered damage from the hurricane, and from lack of available facilities. The
Saints were forced to play their first scheduled home game against the New York Giants at Giants
Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey; other home games were rescheduled at the Alamodome
in San Antonio, Texas or Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During the season,
it was rumored that Saints owner Tom Benson might deem the Superdome unusable and seek
to legally void his contract and relocate the team to San Antonio, where he has business
interests. Ultimately, however, the Superdome was repaired and renovated in time for the
2006 season at an estimated cost of $185 million. The New Orleans Saints’ first post-Katrina
home game was an emotionally-charged Monday Night Football game versus their division
rival, the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints, under rookie head coach Sean Payton and new quarterback
Drew Brees, defeated the Falcons 23–3, and would go on to notch the second playoff win
in franchise history. The 2009 season was a historic one for the
Saints. Winning a franchise-record 13 games, they qualified for Super Bowl XLIV and defeated
the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts 31–17. To date, it is the only Super Bowl Championship
that they have won, and as it is the only Super Bowl the Saints have appeared in, they
join the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the only three NFL teams to win their lone
Super Bowl appearance. The Saints are also the only New Orleans-based professional sports
team to win a national championship title. Over the course of forty-seven seasons, the
Saints have compiled an overall record of 324-409-5, with a regular-season record of
317-400-5 and a playoff record of 7-9. History Early history
First the brainchild of local sports entrepreneur Dave Dixon, who also founded the Louisiana
Superdome and the USFL, the Saints were actually secretly born in a backroom deal brought about
by Congressman Hale Boggs, Senator Russell Long, and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. The
NFL needed congressional approval of the proposed AFL-NFL merger. Dixon and a local civic group
had been seeking a NFL franchise for over 5 years and had hosted record crowds for NFL
exhibition games. To seal the merger, Rozelle arrived in New Orleans within a week, and
announced on November 1, 1966 that the NFL officially had awarded the city of New Orleans
an NFL franchise. The team was named for the great jazz song most identified with New Orleans
– “When the Saints Go Marching In”, and it was no coincidence that the franchise’s
official birth was announced on November 1, which is the Catholic All Saints’ Day. When
the deal was reached a week earlier, Dixon strongly suggested to Rozelle that the announcement
be delayed until then. Dixon told an interviewer that he even cleared the name with New Orleans’
Archbishop Philip M. Hannan: “He thought it would be a good idea. He had an idea the team
was going to need all the help it could get.” Boggs’ Congressional committee in turn quickly
approved the NFL merger. John W. Mecom, Jr., a young oilman from Houston, became the team’s
first majority stockholder. The team’s colors, black and gold, symbolized both Mecom’s and
New Orleans’ strong ties to the oil. Trumpeter Al Hirt was part owner of the team, and his
rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” was made the official fight song.
That first season started with a 94 yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown by John Gilliam,
but the Saints lost that game 27–13 to the Los Angeles Rams at Tulane Stadium. It was
one of the few highlights of a season that ultimately saw the Saints finish 3–11, which
set an NFL record for most wins by an expansion team.
For most of their first 20 years, the Saints were the definition of NFL futility. They
would not finish as high as second in their division until 1979. The 1979 and 1983 teams
were the only ones to even finish at .500 until 1987.
One of the franchise’s early bright moments came on November 8, 1970, when Tom Dempsey
kicked an NFL record-breaking 63-yard field goal to defeat the Detroit Lions by a score
of 19–17 in the final seconds of the game. The record was not broken until 2013 by Matt
Prater of the Denver Broncos. In 1980, the Saints lost their first 14 games,
prompting local sportscaster Bernard “Buddy D” Diliberto to advise Saints supporters to
wear paper bags over their heads at the team’s home games; many bags rendered the club’s
name as the “‘Aints” rather than the “Saints.” The Jim E. Mora era
Current Saints owner Tom Benson acquired the franchise in 1985, and hired Jim Finks as
general manager and Jim Mora as head coach. That combination provided the Saints with
their first-ever winning record and playoff appearance, going 12–3 in 1987, which had
one fewer game than normal due to a players’ strike. Another playoff berth would follow
in 1991, and the club’s first division title came in 1991. During Mora’s tenure, the Saints
made the playoffs four times, with teams marked by strong defenses led by the “Dome Patrol”
linebacking corps, but they were never able to win a playoff game. Mora coached the Saints
until the middle of the 1996 season, when he stepped down halfway through a 3–13 season.
His 93 wins are still a franchise record, and are three more than the Saints won in
their entire history prior to his arrival. The Mike Ditka era
After the end of the 1996 season, ironically as Diliberto had suggested before Mora’s resignation,
former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka was hired to replace Mora. Although this initially
generated a lot of excitement among Saints fans, Ditka’s tenure ended up being a failure.
The Saints went 6–10 in their first two seasons under Ditka. During the 1999 NFL Draft,
Ditka traded all of his picks for that season, as well as the first-round and third-round
picks for the following season, to the Washington Redskins in order to draft University of Texas
Heisman Trophy running back Ricky Williams in the first round. Ditka and Williams had
a mock wedding picture taken to commemorate the occasion. However, Ditka, most of his
coaching staff, and general manager Bill Kuharich were fired at the end of the 1999 season due
to the club’s 3–13 record. The Jim Haslett era
Jim Haslett held the post from 2000 to 2005. In his first year, he took the team to the
2000 playoffs and defeated the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams for the team’s
first ever playoff win. The team lost the following week to the Minnesota Vikings. After
winning the 2000 NFL Executive of the Year Award, General Manager Randy Mueller was fired
between the 2001 and 2002 seasons without explanation by Benson. The Saints failed to
make the playoffs in 2001 and 2002, although in the latter year they had the distinction
of beating the eventual Super Bowl XXXVII champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in both of their
regular season meetings, only the second team to do so in NFL history.
In 2003, the Saints again missed the playoffs after finishing 8–8. The 2004 season started
poorly for the Saints, as they went 2–4 through their first six games and 4–8 through
their first twelve games. At that point Haslett’s job appeared to be in jeopardy; however, he
managed to win the three straight games leading up to the season finale, leaving the Saints
in playoff contention in the final week of the season. In week 17, the Saints defeated
division rivals Carolina; however, the Saints needed other results to break their way and
when the St. Louis Rams beat the New York Jets the Saints were eliminated despite having
beaten the Rams, who finished with the same record. The Rams, Saints, and Vikings all
were 8–8, with the Rams having a 7–5 conference record, Saints 6–6, and the Vikings 5–7.
The Rams received the #1 wild-card due to having the best conference record out of the
3, followed by the Vikings due to the 38–31 loss handed to the Saints in Week 6. Haslett
was fired after the 2005 season, in which the Saints finished 3–13 and did not play
one regular season contest in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina.
Effect of Hurricane Katrina Due to the damage Hurricane Katrina caused
to the Superdome and the New Orleans area, the Saints scheduled the 2005 home opener
against the New York Giants was moved to Giants Stadium. The remainder of their 2005 home
games were split between the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and LSU’s Tiger Stadium
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Sean Payton era On January 17, 2006, the Saints hired Sean
Payton as their new head coach. 2006 season On March 23, the Saints announced that the
team’s two 2006 preseason games were to be played at Shreveport, Louisiana, and Jackson,
Mississippi. After a $185 million renovation of the historic stadium, on April 6 the Saints
released their 2006 schedule, with all home games scheduled to be played at the Superdome.
On September 19, Saints owner Tom Benson announced that the team had sold out the Louisiana Superdome
for the entire season with season tickets alone, a first in franchise history.
The September 25, 2006 home opener, the first home game in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,
was won by the Saints 23–3 against the Atlanta Falcons, who were undefeated in the 2006 season
at that time. The attendance for the game was a sellout crowd of 70,003. Meanwhile,
the broadcast of the game was ESPN’s highest-ever rated program to date, with an 11.8 rating,
and viewership by 10,850,000 homes. It was the most-watched program for the night, broadcast
or cable, and was the second-highest rated cable program of all time at the time. Green
Day and U2 performed “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “The Saints Are Coming”, respectively,
before the game. The game received a 2007 ESPY award for “Best Moment in Sports.” The
game is remembered by Saints fans for Steve Gleason’s blocked punt on the opening series
that resulted in a touchdown for New Orleans. On December 17, 2006, the Saints clinched
their third division title and their first NFC South title in franchise history. For
the first time in Saints’ history, they clinched their NFC South title on their home field.
Sean Payton became the second consecutive Saints coach to win a division title in his
first season. After the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys 23–7 on Christmas
Day 2006, the Saints clinched a first-round playoff bye for the first time in franchise
history. After the first-round bye, the Saints beat
the Philadelphia Eagles 27–24 in the Superdome in the 2006 Divisional Playoffs. No team had
ever had such a poor record in the prior year and then gone on to a league or conference
championship game since the 1999 St. Louis Rams who advanced to win their first Super
Bowl after being 4–12 the season before. Since the Saints’ only previous playoff win
was in the wild card round, this was the farthest the Saints had ever advanced at the time.
The victory was only the second playoff win in team history. The season ended on January
21, 2007 when the Saints lost 39–14 to the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game.
2007 season The Saints announced that for the second year
in a row, the Louisiana Superdome had sold out every ticket for the season. Additionally,
all luxury boxes had been sold out for the season. Both of these statistics are particularly
surprising given that the city-proper has about 300,000 people or 150,000 fewer people
than July 2005 population data. The first game of the season was against the
defending Super Bowl XLI champion Indianapolis Colts. The Saints lost this game, 41–10,
and lost their next three games. In one of these three games, against the Tennessee Titans,
the Saints lost running back Deuce McAllister for the season with his second career ACL
tear. After winning their first game, against the Seattle Seahawks, two weeks later, the
team went on a four-game winning streak to bring their record to an even 4–4. After
reaching 7–7, the Saints lost their final two games to finish 7–9.
2008 season Following a disappointing 7–9 record in
the 2007 season, the Saints ended the 2008 season 8–8. Failing to qualify for the post
season for the second straight year, the Saints found themselves struggling on defense. The
Saints would match the explosive offense they had in the 2006 season, however. Drew Brees
ended the 2008 season just 16 yards short of beating Dan Marino’s single-season record
of 5084 total passing yards. Receiver Lance Moore came 72 yards short of his first 1000-yard
season. 2009 season The 2009 season was the team’s most successful
season, which culminated in the franchise’s first league championship win against the
Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. After achieving a record of 13–0 with their win
over the Atlanta Falcons, it marked the Saints’ best start to a season in its franchise history.
The result clinched an NFC playoff berth, a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
By winning their first 13 games, the Saints also set the record for the longest undefeated
season opening by an NFC team since the AFL–NFL merger, surpassing the previous record held
by the 1985 Chicago Bears. However, they would fall victim to the Dallas Cowboys in week
14, going on to end the season with a 3-game losing streak. Saints became the first team
to win a Super Bowl after losing its last three regular season games.
Although its opponents would include winners of 9 of the last 15 NFL MVP awards, the team
advanced to the 2009 NFC Championship game where they defeated the Minnesota Vikings,
led by Brett Favre, 31–28 in overtime, earning their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise
history. Television ratings for Super Bowl XLIV were the highest for any TV program,
sports or otherwise, in history, as their successful bid to win the Super Bowl was seen
by many to represent the city’s resurgence after the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
2010 season The Saints 2010 season began in the Superdome
as the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings 14–9, in
a rematch of the 2009 NFC Championship Game. It was played on Thursday September 9, 2010
and televised on NBC, making it the first time the Saints have opened the NFL’s season
at home. On Sunday, August 8, 2010, NBC announced the televised opening festivities of the evening
would begin with Taylor Swift and Dave Matthews Band. On December 27, 2010 with a 17–14
win against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta the Saints clinched a playoff appearance.
This marked the first time a team in the NFC South had made back-to-back playoff appearances
since the division was formed in 2002. The Saints would face the Seattle Seahawks for
the wild-card opener at Qwest Field. The Seahawks were the 1st NFL team to capture their division
with a sub.-500 regular season record. Drew Brees completed a postseason-record 39 passes
for 404 yards and two touchdowns. Despite throwing 60 passes and hindered by a lack
of depth at running back, last year’s Super Bowl MVP was not intercepted and rallied the
Saints within 34–30 in the fourth quarter. In the end, his efforts were negated by a
defense that could not get enough stops and a late TD run by Marshawn Lynch breaking over
a half-dozen tackles with 3:22 left which allowed Seattle to finish off the Saints.
Final score 41–36. 2011 season The Saints began their season with a loss
against the Green Bay Packers, but the team rebounded for the next four weeks to bring
their record to 4–1. A loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought the record to 4–2,
but the team bounced back with a 62–7 blowout win against the struggling Indianapolis Colts.
A surprise loss to the St. Louis Rams resulted in the record dropping to 5–3. In the next
seven weeks the Saints beat talented teams such as the eventual Super Bowl XLVI champion
New York Giants, Detroit Lions, and Atlanta Falcons, bringing their season record to 12–3.
To cap off the season, quarterback Drew Brees broke the single season passing record held
for over 25 years, on the way to a Saints division winning game. The Saints won the
NFC South title on December 26 and ended the 2011 season as the 3rd Seed in the NFC. They
finished with a 13–3 record, beating Carolina 45–17 and also giving running back Darren
Sproles the record for most all-purpose yards in a single season. The team broke numerous
records that year including most yards in a season, completion percentage, yards passing,
completions and more. The New Orleans Saints beat the Detroit Lions in the 2011 NFC wild-card
playoff game 45–28. New Orleans also tied the NFL’s postseason mark for team first downs
in a game, and broke the record for total yards with 626, eclipsing the yardage record
set 49 years ago. The Saints lost Saturday, January 14, 2012 in the Divisional round in
the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park. A game that was considered
an instant classic by many as the game saw numerous lead changes in the final 4 minutes
of play. 2012 season After an offseason dominated by news of the
so-called bounty scandal and the year-long suspension of head coach Sean Payton, the
Saints sought to refocus on football and produce yet another winning year. Instead, the team,
lead by offensive line coach Aaron Kromer for its first six games, started the season
with four straight losses and a last place spot in the NFC South. The team finally broke
through with a win in Week 5, against the San Diego Chargers, a game that also saw quarterback
Drew Brees break Johnny Unitas’s longstanding record for consecutive games with a touchdown
pass. After their scheduled bye, the Saints went on to win 4 of their next 5 games, to
bring their record to an even 5–5. Joe Vitt returned after his six-game suspension to
serve as interim head coach for the rest of the season. The team failed to hold its momentum,
however, and lost the next three games, including a loss at Atlanta that also marked the end
of Brees’ record touchdown streak after 54 games, and a 52–27 blowout loss to the Giants
that dropped the Saints to 5–8. Despite winning 2 of their last 3 games, and Brees
again leading the league with 5,177 passing yards, the team finished tied for last in
the NFC South, at 7–9. The Saints defense allowed 7,042 yards, setting an NFL record.
2013 season The Saints finished their 2013 preseason 3–1,
and won their first five regular season games against the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. The Saints under Sean Peyton had been
winless in Chicago’s Soldier Field and had not won in the Windy City since 2000. The
Saints fared well against Chicago, Arizona and Miami, winning 26–18, 31–7 and 38–17
respectively, but needed a 4th down shutdown and a last minute field goal to escape Atlanta
and Tampa Bay. The Saints went on a 5–0 win streak, but were stopped short by the
New England Patriots in Week 6, losing 30–27, with a touchdown pass by Tom Brady in the
last 5 seconds of the game. New Orleans would go undefeated at home for the second straight
season with Sean Payton as the head coach, but finish just 3-5 on the road. Key losses
included a 34-7 blowout against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football in Seattle
which cost them homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and a heartbreaking 17-13 defeat
to their division rival the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte who went on to win the NFC South.
The Saints finished the season with an 11-5 record and earned a wild card berth as the
6th seed in the NFC. On January 4, 2014, the Saints recorded their first road playoff win
in franchise history over the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24. On January 11, the Saints lost
to the number 1 seed Seattle Seahawks once again in Seattle 23-15. The weather conditions
were very poor, which gave the offense much difficulty. Despite the conditions, the defense
of the Saints played well. 2014 season Controversies
2009–2011 Bounty Scandal After a lengthy investigation conducted by
the National Football League’s security department, the league alleged on March 2, 2012 that 22
to 27 defensive players on the New Orleans Saints maintained a “pay for performance”
program that included “bounty” payments administered by then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams
during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated, “The payments
here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for ‘performance,’
but also for injuring opposing players.” The report also found that head coach Sean Payton
was aware of the allegations but failed to stop the program. The league also said that
Mickey Loomis, the Saints’ general manager, was directed to end the program by owner Tom
Benson, but didn’t. The memo released to NFL teams found Payton and Loomis guilty of “conduct
detrimental” to the league. On March 3, 2012, Benson addressed the bounty
payments controversy on the Saints’ website, stating, “I have been made aware of the NFL’s
findings relative to the “Bounty Rule” and how it relates to our club. I have offered
and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings
may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships
in the future for our fans.” On March 21, 2012, Commissioner Goodell announced
that, as a result of the bounty scandal and the NFL’s investigation, Sean Payton has been
suspended for one year, Gregg Williams indefinitely, and Mickey Loomis for the first eight regular
season games. The team was also fined $500,000 and docked second round draft picks in 2012
and 2013. Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt also was suspended six games and fined $100,000.
Payton’s suspension started on April 1, 2012, and all the suspensions are without pay. Goodell
will meet with Williams again after the 2012 season to determine the coach’s status.
On May 2, 2012 it was announced that four players who played for the team between 2009
and 2011 would receive suspensions for their alleged participation in “Bountygate”: Saints
linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive lineman Will Smith, former Saints/retired
linebacker Scott Fujita, and former Saints/current Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove.
Most of the players who were the targets of questionable hits by the Saints, including
Favre and Warner, claimed the bounties were merely part of the game. However, several
former players interviewed by Sports Illustrated said that while payments for good hits and
sacks were indeed considered part of the game, bounties for intentionally injuring opponents
violated an unwritten code. However on July 26, 2012 Jonathan Vilma and
seven witnesses from the Saints testified in front of a federal judge in New Orleans
that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell got his facts wrong in the bounty scandal.”Everybody
was sworn in under oath in front of a judge with the risk of perjury and jail time if
we were lying, and categorically denied there was a bounty,” Vilma said in a text message
to ESPN’s Ed Werder. “Seven people testified, 2 sworn affidavits all saying the same thing.
I ask that you and ESPN report the facts. No more bias or b.s. or hearsay. I gave you
facts that you can report if so choose.” Tulane University Sports Law Program Director
Gabe Feldman said, “Clearly the judge, by her questions, indicated she thinks Goodell
overstepped his authority, and this case was always going to be about if he executed his
power fairly… The NFL’s retort is that with all due deference, you don’t get to second
guess. Judges only have limited jurisdiction over arbitration issues.”
Saints All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees made a controversial tweet on June 20, 2012 stating,
“If NFL fans were told there were “weapons of mass destruction” enough times, they’d
believe it. But what happens when you don’t find any????” Brees immediately issued another
statement to clarify, “My WMD comment has nothing to do with politics or our brave military.
Merely an analogy to show how media influences public perception.” He went on to say, “I
apologize if the WMD comment offended anyone. Especially our military. There is no one I
respect more than our service men and women.” Logos and uniforms Black, along with old gold and white, has
always been one of the team colors, but it wasn’t the first choice of original majority
owner John W. Mecom, Jr. His preference was for Mecom Blue, a medium shade which was used
by all of his other investments. The NFL office, however, informed him that his proposed combination
too closely resembled that worn by the San Diego Chargers. Although the Chargers were
members of the AFL, the older league didn’t want to offend its soon-to-be partner so soon
after the merger. Mecom settled on black as the primary color as a nod to his financial
involvement in the petroleum industry. “Black gold” is a term synonymous with oil. Although
the Pittsburgh Steelers—who played a few home games in New Orleans during their early
years to avoid conflict with the Pittsburgh Panthers football team—have long used black
and gold as their colors, their shade of gold more closely resembles yellow, making the
Saints black and gold compatible with the rest of the NFL.
Except for minor modifications, the Saints’ logo and uniforms have basically remained
the same since the club debuted in 1967. The team’s logo is a fleur-de-lis, while its uniform
design consists of gold helmets, gold pants, and either black or white jerseys. Minor changes
to the uniform stripes and trim have been made throughout the years. The team wore black
helmets during the 1969 preseason, but NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle barred the Saints
from using the helmets during the regular season, since Mecom did not notify the league
office of the change. The Saints predominantly wore white at home
when the club played at Tulane Stadium from 1967 through 1974, forcing opponents to suffer
in their darker jerseys in the subtropical climate of New Orleans. When the surface at
Tulane Stadium switched from natural grass to PolyTurf in 1971, field temperatures became
hotter still. In Archie Manning’s first game, in the 1971 season opener against the Los
Angeles Rams, temperatures on the field reached as high as 130 °F. The heavily favored Rams
wilted in the stifling heat, and the Saints claimed their first-ever victory over their
NFC West rivals, 24–20, on Manning’s 1-yard quarterback sneak on the last play of the
game. The Saints switched to white pants in 1975,
coinciding with the team’s move from Tulane Stadium to the Superdome, and have worn white
at home numerous times since then. One year later, they started to wear black pants with
their white jerseys, a move influenced by coach Hank Stram, who introduced red pants
to the Kansas City Chiefs’ uniforms in 1968. In an October 3, 1976 home game against the
Houston Oilers, Hank Stram used the Saints’ road uniforms, the white jerseys and black
pants. The Saints lost that game 31–26. During the 1981–82 seasons, the team wore
white jerseys with black pants at home, but reverted to the black jerseys and white pants
for 1983. They reverted to wearing gold pants with both their black and white jerseys in
1986 under new coach Jim E. Mora. From 1986 through 1995, the sleeves of the jerseys and
sides of the pants featured a logo with a fleur-de-lis inside an outline of the state
of Louisiana. The logo replaced the striping pattern that had been on the uniforms since
the team’s inception; save for color variations, the striping pattern was similar to that used
by the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, and Cleveland Browns, which is likely why
the change was made. That logo was removed in 1996 and replaced with a fleur-de-lis on
both the sleeves and sides of the pants. From 1996 through 1998, the Saints returned
to gold numbers on both the white and black jerseys, but complaints about the numbers
on the white jerseys being too difficult to read forced the numbers on the white jerseys
to be changed to black in 1999. The Saints wore black pants with a wide gold stripe with
their white jerseys in 1999, but following a 3–13 season and the dismissal of coach
Mike Ditka, the black pants were mothballed by new coach Jim Haslett.
2000s In 2000, the Saints won their first playoff
game as they hosted the St. Louis Rams, and after having a better road record than home
record, they wore their white jerseys, and won 31–28 over the defending champion Rams.
The defining play of the game came with the Saints clinging to a three-point lead with
minutes to play. The Saints punted to the Rams’ Az-Zahir Hakim, who fumbled the punt
deep in Rams’ territory. Brian Milne recovered for the Saints, who then ran out the clock
to preserve the victory. In 2001, they wore their white jerseys in
the first six home games. During that same year, they primarily wore black pants with
both their white and black jerseys. They became the first NFL team to wear all-black uniforms
in a week 5 road game against the Carolina Panthers, and again in weeks 16 and 17 in
home games against the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers; the Saints were outscored
78–10 in the final two contests to end a 7–9 campaign.
In 2002, the Saints wore black pants with their white jerseys, and gold pants with their
black jerseys, a gold alternate jersey, and a 1967-style throwback uniform, complete with
an accurate 1967-era helmet which featured a larger fleur-de-lis, a darker shade of gold
and grey facemasks. But one season later, they stopped using the alternates and again
reverted to wearing gold pants with both their black and white jerseys.
The team introduced a gold alternate jersey during a December 15, 2002 game versus the
Minnesota Vikings, a 32–31 loss, but have never worn them since then. Because of the
metallic gold’s bright color, the gold jerseys were considered the “light” jersey in the
game, so the Vikings wore their purple home jerseys as the “dark” colored team. One team
must wear “dark” and one team must wear “light”, this was done because of black & white t.v.
broadcasts so viewers could tell the teams apart. The only exception being if both teams
are wearing throwback uniforms, such as Thanksgiving Classic games. From 2003 through 2007, the
New England Patriots had a “light” jersey that isn’t white in which the other team would
wear their colored, or “dark” jerseys against them since the third jersey rule was implemented
in the NFL in 2002. The Saints also introduced a 1967-style throwback
uniform in a 23–20 win on December 1, 2002 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This uniform
wasn’t worn again until a 40–33 win against the Houston Texans on September 25, 2011 and
also on November 6, 2011 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 27–16 Saints win. However,
the 2011 throwbacks use the current-helmet, meaning the shades of gold on the helmet and
jersey do not match. In 2006, to honor their return to Louisiana,
the Saints wore a patch on their uniforms with an outline of the State of Louisiana
with a fleur-de-lis superimposed, similar to the logo from the 1980s.
The Saints originally planned to wear white jerseys at home for the 2006 season, but during
the season, the players voted to wear the black jerseys at home after the second game.
Since the team had informed the NFL office that they planned to wear white jerseys at
home, each of the Saints’ remaining home opponents would have to agree to New Orleans’ request.
The Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals did not agree to the
switch, forcing the Saints to wear white jerseys for those games.
Starting in week 13 of the 2006 season, the Saints wore black pants with the black jerseys
against the San Francisco 49ers, and in a Week 16 game in The Meadowlands against the
New York Giants, the Saints wore the black pants with their road white jerseys. The Saints
later stuck with the black pants in their 2006 playoff run.
Since 2008, the Saints have worn white jerseys at home for preseason games and early regular
season home games. In 2009, the Saints wore the black pants only
once, beating St. Louis 28–23. They wore the white jerseys/gold pants combination during
the Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts. In 2012 the Saints wore black pants
12 times and wore gold pants 4 times. In 2013 gold pants were used only 7 times.
Stadium The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is the home stadium
of the New Orleans Saints. The dome has a listed football seating capacity of 76,468
or 73,208. Rivals
Divisional rivals Atlanta Falcons The Saints’ oldest, most storied, and by far,
most hated rival is the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons own the rivalry series 48-43. The
two clubs joined the NFL within a year of each other as expansion teams and have played
each other twice a season since the Saints joined the league in 1967. During the early
decades of both teams’ existence, when both had mediocre squads at best, fans of the visiting
team were well known to travel by the busloads to the other team’s stadium to cheer them
on. This helped create a level of hostility in the stands, which sometimes exceeded the
level of play on the field. As both teams have improved in recent years, the rivalry
intensified. For instance, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans residents
moved to the Atlanta area; while taking their Saints’ allegiances with them. With this rare
dichotomy of having fans of opposing teams reside in the same city year-round, this has
developed into one of the most hated rivalries in the sport.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Being the only 2 gulf coast teams, they have
developing rivalry with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have been part of the NFC South with the
Saints since 2002. The teams actually played each other quite
often as non-division rivals. Between 1977–2001, there were only five years in which the teams
did not play. This includes 12 years in a row from 1981–92 – all as a result of
the scheduling formulas in place prior to 2002.
The Saints won 13 of 20 games as non-division opponents. Since becoming division rivals,
the Saints have the edge in the series, winning 14 games to the Bucs’ 10.
One notable pre-division game is a 1977 matchup that resulted in Tampa Bay’s first win in
franchise history coming against New Orleans after previously starting out 0–26 overall.
Carolina Panthers The Saints and the Carolina Panthers have
been minor rivals since Carolina joined the league as an expansion franchise in 1995.
The teams have been divisional rivals since then, originally in the NFC West and then
in the NFC South since 2002. This series has been extremely close. As of the end of the
2012 regular season Carolina leads 19–17. Carolina defeated New Orleans on the road
every year from 2002 to 2008, a streak of seven seasons. Notable games include Carolina’s
19–7 home victory in 1996 that sparked Saints head coach Jim Mora’s infamous “Diddley Poo”
rant and resignation from the team, Carolina’s 10–6 win in the 2002 season finale at the
Superdome to knock the Saints out of the playoffs, and the emotional 2005 season opener at Carolina
where the Saints won 23–20 in the face of Hurricane Katrina and an eventual 3–13 season.
After the bounty scandal broke, it was revealed that the Saints had deliberately targeted
Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton. Other rivals
Dallas Cowboys The New Orleans Saints’ rivalry with NFC counterparts
Dallas Cowboys is more of a regional rivalry rather than a divisional one as the two franchises
have never competed in the same division. Their fanbases overlap in parts of northern
Louisiana, such as the Shreveport – Bossier City metropolitan area which borders the state
of Texas. The teams have played each other 27 times,
with New Orleans owning the recent series winning 8 out of the last 10 games. The Saints
have won 4 of the last 5 meetings in Dallas, with a 2–1 record at Cowboys Stadium. The
all-time series record stands at 12–16, in favor of Dallas. The two teams most recently
met on September 28, 2014 where the Cowboys won in Arlington with a score of 38-17. In
the teams’ most recent meeting at the Superdome, the Saints set a National Football League
record of 40 first downs and a franchise record of 625 yards of total offense with Texas native
Drew Brees throwing four touchdown passes without any interceptions for the fifteenth
time in his career. Additionally, the Saints’ defensive coordinator was Rob Ryan, who had
been let go by the Cowboys earlier that year, and Ryans’ replacement Monte Kiffin was demoted
from the position at the end of the 2013 season. Minnesota Vikings
A most common postseason rival for the Saints are the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints and
the Vikings have played each other three times in the postseason, with the most recent being
the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Although the Vikings have dominated the overall series,
the Saints have won the last three including the 2009 NFC Championship Game. More recently,
the Saints won 20-9 in their home opener of the 2014 season as the Vikings had to make
do without the suspended Adrian Peterson and Matt Cassel leaving the game due to an injury.
Philadelphia Eagles Another common postseason rival for the Saints
are the Philadelphia Eagles. The Saints and Eagles have played each other three times
in the postseason, with the most recent being a 2013 NFC Wild Card Game that was won by
the Saints 26-24. This game marked the first playoff victory on the road in Saints franchise
history. The Eagles have dominated the Saints in the overall series; however, the Saints
hold a 2-1 postseason edge over the Eagles. San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers were division rivals with the Saints up until realignment in 2002
when the Saints moved to the NFC South. The 49ers dominated the rivalry when the Saints
played in the NFC West, but the Saints have held the upper hand since realignment winning
the first six games since moving to the NFC South. The teams met in the divisional round
of the 2011 playoffs, with the 49ers winning 36–32 in an exciting game that saw four
lead changes in the last four minutes of the game. The Saints trail the all-time series
24–46–2 which includes 0–1 in the postseason. The two teams most recently met on November
2013 in week 11 where the Saints beat the 49ers 23-20 in the New Orleans Superdome.
Statistics Season-by-season records Record vs. opponents
(As of the 2013 NFL season; includes postseason records)
Note: W=Wins, L=Losses, T=Ties ** The Saints were designated the home team
for this game. Single-game records
Passing Yards: 510 Drew Brees Passing Yards Per Attempt: 16.1 Drew Brees
Passing Touchdowns: 6 Drew Brees & Billy Kilmer Passer Rating: 158.3 Drew Brees T – NFL
Record Consecutive Pass Completions: 19 Drew Brees
Rushing Yards: 206 George Rogers Rushing Touchdowns: 3 Reggie Bush
Receiving Catches: 14 Tony Galbreath Receiving Catches, postseason game: 15 Darren
Sproles Receiving Yards: 205 Wes Chandler
Receiving Touchdowns: 4 Joe Horn Punt Return Yards: 176 Reggie Bush
Pass Interceptions, Game: 3 Sammy Knight Longest Interception Return for Touchdown:
99 yards Darren Sharper T – NFL Record Longest Field Goal: 63 yards Tom Dempsey
Field Goals, Game: 6 Tom Dempsey Total Touchdowns, Game: 4 Joe Horn & Reggie
Bush Points Scored: 24 Joe Horn & Reggie Bush
Points Scored, Team: 62 Margin Of Victory: 62–7
Most First Downs: 40 NFL Record Single-season records
Passing Attempts: 670 Drew Brees Passing Completions: 468 Drew Brees – NFL
Record Passing Completion Percentage: 71.2 Drew Brees
– NFL Record Passing Yards: 5,476 Drew Brees
Passing Touchdowns: 46 Drew Brees Passing Interceptions: 22 Aaron Brooks, Drew
Brees Passing Rating: 110.6 Drew Brees
Rushing Attempts: 378 George Rogers Rushing Yards: 1,674 George Rogers
Rushing Touchdowns: 13 George Rogers, Dalton Hilliard, and Deuce McAllister
Receiving Receptions: 99 Jimmy Graham Receiving Yards: 1,399 Joe Horn
Receiving Touchdowns: 16 Jimmy Graham Quarterback Sacks: 17 Pat Swilling and La’Roi
Glover Pass Interceptions: 10 Dave Whitsell
Pass Interception Return Yards: 376 Darren Sharper – NFL Record
Pass Interceptions Returned for Touchdowns: 3 Darren Sharper
Field Goals Attempts: 41 Tom Dempsey Field Goals Made: 31 Morten Andersen and John
Carney Points: 147 John Kasay
Total Touchdowns: 18 Dalton Hilliard Punt Return Yards: 625 Michael Lewis
All Purpose Yards: 2,696 Darren Sproles – NFL Record
Yards From Scrimmage: 2157 Deuce McAllister Points Scored: 547
Career records Passing Attempts: 4,990 Drew Brees
Passing Completions: 3,356 Drew Brees Passing Yards: 38,733 Drew Brees
Passing Touchdowns: 283 Drew Brees Passing Rating: 99.0 Drew Brees
Passing Interceptions: 156 Archie Manning Rushing Attempts: 1,429 Deuce McAllister
Rushing Yards: 6,096 Deuce McAllister Rushing Touchdowns: 49 Deuce McAllister
Receiving Catches: 607 Marques Colston Receiving Yards: 8,337 Marques Colston
Receiving Touchdowns: 63 Marques Colston Quarterback Sacks: 123 Rickey Jackson
Pass Interceptions: 37 Dave Waymer Field Goal Attempts: 389 Morten Andersen
Field Goals Made: 302 Morten Andersen Extra Points Made: 412 Morten Andersen
Points: 1,318 Morten Andersen Total Touchdowns: 63 Marques Colston
Pass Interception Return Yards: 621 Tom Myers Pass Interception Returned for Touchdowns:
4 Sammy Knight Punt Return Yards: 1,482 Michael Lewis
Kickoff Return Yards: 5,903 Michael Lewis Longest Punt: 81 Tom McNeill
Games: 196 Morten Andersen Notable players Pro Football Hall of Famers
Doug Atkins DE 1967–1969 Earl Campbell RB 1984–1985
Jim Finks GM 1986–1993 Hank Stram Coach 1976–1977
Jim Taylor FB 1967 Mike Ditka Coach 1997–1999
Tom Fears Coach 1967–1970 Rickey Jackson LB 1981–1993
Willie Roaf OT 1993–2001 Until the selection of Rickey Jackson in 2010,
there had been no players in the Hall of Fame who earned their credentials primarily as
Saints; the others were chosen for their work with previous teams. However, Jim Finks’s
tenure as Saints general manager was a significant factor in his selection. When Offensive Tackle
Willie Roaf was selected in 2012, he became the second Saint to earn his Hall of Fame
credentials mostly while in New Orleans. Roaf was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team
of the 90’s. Pro Bowl players
The following Saints players have been named to the Pro Bowl:
QB Drew Brees, Archie Manning FB Tony Baker
RB Deuce McAllister, Dalton Hilliard, Rueben Mayes, George Rogers, Chuck Muncie, Andy Livingston
LT Jammal Brown, William Roaf, Jermon Bushrod LG Brad Edelman, Jake Kupp, Carl Nicks, Ben
Grubbs C LeCharles Bentley, Joel Hilgenberg, Jonathan
Goodwin RG Jahri Evans, Michael Owen
RT Jon Stinchcomb TE Hoby Brenner, Henry Childs, Jimmy Graham
WR Joe Horn, Eric Martin, Wes Chandler DE Will Smith, Joe Johnson, Wayne Martin,
Renaldo Turnbull, Bruce Clark, Cameron Jordan DT La’Roi Glover
LB Jonathan Vilma, Mark Fields, Keith Mitchell, Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, Pat Swilling,
Rickey Jackson, Renaldo Turnbull CB Tyrone Hughes, Bennie Thompson, Dave Waymer,
Dave Whitsell SS Roman Harper, Sammy Knight, Tom Myers
FS Darren Sharper K Morten Andersen, Tom Dempsey
P Mitch Berger, Brian Hansen, Thomas Morstead Super Bowl MVPs
Super Bowl XLIV – Drew Brees Retired numbers
8 Archie Manning – QB(71–75,77–82) 26 Deuce McAllister – RB
31 Jim Taylor – FB 81 Doug Atkins – DE
Ring of Honor On October 9, 2013, the Saints announced the
creation of a Ring of Honor to commemorate former players, administrators and individuals
with significant contributions to the franchise. Their names are displayed along the Mercedes-Benz
Superdome’s Terrace Level fascia. The first three honorees were Archie Manning, Rickey
Jackson and Willie Roaf and were officially inducted during halftime of the Saints’ game
against the Dallas Cowboys on November 10, 2013.
New Orleans Hall Of Fame 1988: QB Archie Manning, WR Danny Abramowicz
1989: S Tommy Myers, K Tom Dempsey 1990: QB Billy Kilmer
1991: NT Derland Moore, RB Tony Galbreath 1992: RB George Rogers, G Jake Kupp, C John
Hill 1993: LB Joe Federspiel
1994: GM Jim Finks, TE Henry Childs 1995: DE Bob Pollard, DE Doug Atkins
1996: CB Dave Whitsell, DB Dave Waymer 1997: LB Rickey Jackson, T Stan Brock
1998: RB Dalton Hilliard, LB Sam Mills 1999: QB Bobby Hebert, WR Eric Martin
2000: LB Vaughan Johnson, LB Pat Swilling 2001: TE Hoby Brenner, DE Jim Wilks
2002: Coach Jim Mora, DE Frank Warren 2003: DE Wayne Martin, G/T Jim Dombrowski
2004: RB Rueben Mayes, Assistant Coach Steve Sidwell
2005–2006: C Joel Hilgenberg 2007: DE Joe Johnson
2008: OT Willie Roaf 2009: K Morten Andersen
2010: WR Joe Horn 2011: DB Sammy Knight
2012: RB Deuce McAllister, team owner Tom Benson
2013: DT La’Roi Glover 2014: QB Aaron Brooks, K John Carney
|} 45th Anniversary Team
To commemorate the club’s upcoming 45th anniversary, the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame has selected
its All-45th Anniversary Team. The Hall of Fame updates its all-time team every five
years, and this latest squad of head coach and players features four standouts from the
club’s current roster – QB Drew Brees, G Jahri Evans and DE Will Smith as well as head
coach Sean Payton. The players are chosen in a vote by the Hall
of Fame media selection committee, which includes local and regional media members who cover
the Saints now or did so in the past. The All-45th Anniversary Team is as follows, with
an asterisk designating those players who have already been inducted into the Hall of
Fame: Joe Gemelli Fleur-De-Lis Award
Awarded yearly to a person who has contributed to the betterment of the New Orleans Saints
organization. Current staff and roster
Head coaches Cheerleaders The Saintsations are the cheerleading squad
for the Saints. A cheerleading squad has existed since the franchise’s founding but the current
name was only adopted in 1987. Radio and television
The Saints’ flagship station is WWL, one of the oldest radio stations in the city of New
Orleans and one of the nation’s most powerful as a clear-channel station with 50,000 watts
of power. Jim Henderson and Hokie Gajan form the broadcast team. Most preseason games are
televised on Cox Sports Television and WVUE, a station which has been owned by a consortium
led by Saints owner Tom Benson since mid-2008, and, as the Fox affiliate for New Orleans,
carries the majority of Saints games; both stations also carry a heavy complement of
coach and player shows. Tim Brando and Jon Stinchcomb call the preseason action.
Radio affiliates Saints Radio Affiliates
See also Occurrence of Religious Symbolism in U.S.
Sports Team Names and Mascots References External links
Official website

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