While many great people have been involved with the Saints organization since its inception, there are some coaches and players in the franchise’s history that just seem extraordinary. Here’s a countdown tribute to the top 20 greatest New Orleans Saints. (thus far..)
1.)Drew Brees (QB 2006-Present)
Since signing with the team before the start of the 2006 NFL season, quarterback Drew Brees has not only put up some exceptional statistics, but has lead his team to the playoffs twice and on the second time, won the Super Bowl, a first in Saints franchise history. During his tenure in New Orleans, Brees has been named to the Pro Bowl 3x and Super Bowl MVP. Before playing for the Saints, Brees played for the San Diego Chargers. After becoming a free agent after the 2005 season, Brees visited with both the Dolphins and the Saints. Nick Saban, who was Dolphins head coach at the time didn’t trust that Brees could come back from arthroscopic surgery which lead Brees to ultimately sign with the Saints. The rest is history..
2.)Rickey Jackson (LB 1981-1993)
Rickey Jackson is the only player for the Saints to have been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame thus far. As a linebacker, Jackson made up part of the Saints famed Dome Patrol during the late 80s/early 90s. After his tenure with the Saints, Jackson went on to play with the 49ers, earning a Super Bowl Ring in 1995.
3.)Sean Payton (Head Coach 2006-Present)
Head Coach Sean Payton is known for his gutsy calls and as an offensive guru. During his first season with the team in 2006, Payton lead the Saints to the NFC Championship and 3 seasons later to winning the team’s first Super Bowl.
4.)Deuce McAllister (RB 2001-2009)
Deuce McAllister was drafted out of Ole Miss by the Saints in the first round of the 2001 draft. During his 8 seasons with the team he rushed for over 6,000 yards and made 2 Pro Bowl appearances. He holds the franchise record for most career rushing yards and touchdowns.
5.)Joe Horn (WR 2000-2006)
During his time in New Orleans, wide receiver Joe Horn became known for his flashy celebration antics, thus giving way to the nickname “Hollywood”. Before his tenure with the Saints, Horn played 4 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. In his 7 seasons with the team Horn was a highly productive receiver, having 4 Pro Bowl appearances. Horn also spent one season playing for divisional rival Atlanta before retiring with the Saints in 2010.
6.)Archie Manning (QB 1971-1982)
Although today he’s probably known best as the father of super star Super Bowl MVP’s Peyton and Eli Manning, Quarterback Archie Manning was known as a super star during his time with the Saints. Despite poor protection on the field, Manning managed to lead the league in pass attempts and completions in 1972. In 1978 he was named NFC Player of the Year and also made 2 Pro Bowls with the team.
7.)Morten Andersen (K 1982-1994)
In Saint’s history, kicker Morten Andersen is the Saints leading scorer with 1,318 points over 13 seasons with the team. A 6-time pro bowler, with the Saints, Andersen holds many distinctive league records.
8.)Bobby Hebert (QB 1985-1992)
A Louisiana native, Bobby Hebert became known as the “cajun-cannon” during his time as a quarterback. Hebert lead the Saints to their first playoff appearance in 1991 and another in 1992. In 1999 Hebert was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.
9.)Jim Mora (Head Coach 1986-1996)
Before Mora’s arrival as Saints Head Coach in 1986, the Saints were known as a strictly losing team. Mora brought the attitude of winning to the Saints. During his time as head coach Mora brought the Saints to the playoffs 4 times. Despite all these times being losing efforts, Mora became the winningest head coach in Saints history.
10.)Marques Colston (WR 2006-Present)
Marques Colston was drafted in the 7th round of the NFL draft but quickly became one of quarterback Drew Brees’ favorite targets in 2006. He’s helped lead the Saints receiving corps over the past 4 seasons and holds the NFL record for most receptions in a player’s first 2 years.
11.)Dalton Hilliard (WR 1986-1993)
Hilliard played college football at LSU and became one of the most productive Saints running backs during the late 80’s/early 90’s. In 1989 he rushed for 1,262 yards and 18 touchdowns, thus earning his only Pro Bowl appearance.
12.)Willie Roaf (Tackle 1993-2001)
Linebacker Willie Roaf has the distinction of being the most awarded linebacker in Saints history, having made the pro bowl 7x during his time with the Saints. He was named to the NFL’s all decade team in the 1990’s and 2000’s. He played with the Kansas City Chiefs before retiring in 2005.
13.)Eric Martin (WR 1985-1993)
During his time with the Saints from 1985 to 1993, Eric Martin became one of the best regarded receivers in Saints history with most receptions, touchdowns, and receiving yards. Martin was selected to the Pro Bowl once and also played for the Kansas City Chiefs before retiring in 1994.
14.)Sam Mills (LB 1986-1994)
As a linebacker for the Saints during the late 80s/early 90’s, Sam Mills formed an integral part of the Saint’s defense known as the “Dome Patrol”. He earned 4 Pro Bowl appearances during his tenure with the Saints.
15.)Vaughan Johnson (LB 1986-1993)
Like Sam Mills, linebacker Vaughaun Johnson also formed an integral part of the Saint’s “Dome Patrol”. he was named to the Pro Bowl 4x.
16.)Pat Swilling (LB 1986-1992)
A consistent Pro Bowler with the Saints, Pat Swilling earned the distinction as NFL defensive player of the year in 1991. He was yet another member of the Saint’s “Dome Patrol”. Swilling later entered into politics, becoming a delegate in the Louisiana House of Representatives.
17.)Will Smith (DE 2004-Present)
Throughout the 2000’s, defensive end Will Smith has become an important leader of the Saints defense. In 2001 Smith had a career high 13 sacks. Smith was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2006.
18.)Michael Lewis (WR/PR 2001-2006)
Shortly before his time with the Saints, Michael Lewis worked as a Budweiser truck driver. Although he never played college football, Lewis dabbled with semi-professional leagues before finally signing with the Saints in 2001. He quickly made a name for himself as a return specialist and was named to a Pro Bowl for his special teams skills in 2002.
19.)Reggie Bush (RB 2006-Present)
Reggie Bush is probably regarded as the most well-known draft pick of the New Orleans Saints due to his prolific play at running back during his college tenure at USC. Bush has become known for large breakout plays on the outside and as reliable receiver as well as being a running back. One of Bush’s biggest games came as New Orleans faced the Cardinals in the playoffs of the 2009 season. Bush registered 85 yard of rushing, a touchdown, and an 83 yard punt return for another touchdown.
20.)John Carney (K 2001-2006, 2009)
John Carney was known as a reliable placekicker during his tenure with the Saints. After a 2 season absence, Carney returned to the Saints active roster in time for the 2009 season. Although later replaced by Garrett Hartley in time for the Saint’s first Super Bowl Appearance, Carney stayed with the team as a kicking coach to the young Hartley and is credited with much of Hartley’s growth as a kicker through the Saint’s playoff games and Super Bowl appearance.