Nov 1 The First New Orleans Saint

Nov 1  The First New Orleans Saint

Your Natchez History Minute is brought to
you by Natchez National Historical Park. On this date (Nov. 1) in 1966, New Orleans
was awarded its National Football League franchise. Three months later, the Saints signed the
team’s first player: former Natchez High School star Paige Cothren. A retired kicker who previously played three
years for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, Cothren was recruited
by new Saints coach Tom Fears. However, the first Saint never played a game
for New Orleans. Cothren was cut during the team’s 1967 training
camp for its inaugural season. He was beat out as kicker by Charlie Durkee. Born in 1935, Cothren grew up in rural Amite
County. He moved to nearby Natchez for his senior
year in high school. After graduating in 1953 from Natchez High,
he went to the University of Mississippi. He followed the steps of his uncles Buster,
Ray and Barney Poole — all legendary Ole Miss football players. At Ole Miss, Cothren was an All-American star
in 1955 and 1956. He played as a kicker, fullback, linebacker
and cornerback. He led the Southeastern Conference in overall
scoring in 1955 with 74 points. He also that year had the most college kicking
scores in the country with 38 points. Cothren was the NFL’s top kicker three years
later. His 14 field goals in 1958 led the league. After his professional football career, Cothren
lived in north Mississippi and operated several Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. He later earned a master’s degree in biblical
studies and became a Christian counselor. He also authored several books. Cothren died in September 2016 at age 81. I’m Bob Sizemore, avid Saints
fan, and this is your Natchez History Minute.

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