In honor of the great Willie Roaf being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, I take a look at the numbers throughout New Orleans Saints history that, along with Roaf's, should be retired by the team and never worn again.
I added the "never worn again" disclaimer because the Saints, technically, have four numbers "retired," but stile dole them out whenever. Those are numbers 51, 57, 81 and 31.
Those numbers belonged to the late, great Sam Mills, Rickey Jackson and two Hall of Fame players who finished up their careers in New Orleans and never really did much here, Doug Atkins and Jim Taylor. Those players' numbers are "officially" retired more as a career achievement award, like the Miami Heat retiring Michael Jordan's number.
Funny thing is, the only number that has never been worn by another player is Archie Manning's number eight. And that one isn't even officially retired.
The Saints did right by retiring numbers 51 and 57, and keeping eight off the shelves, but no one in a Saints uniform should be wearing numbers made famous by Mills and Jackson. (Sorry David Hawthorne and Jonathan Vilma.)
Along with those three, these are the numbers that should never be worn again by Saints players again.
These guys will forever live on in Saints' lore, but would still be on the fence when it comes to their number being retired.
Steve Gleason (37), Michael Lewis (84), and Danny Abramowicz (46) were terrific players during their days in the black and gold, and if there were semi-retired numbers, (oh, right, there are) they would definitely be in that category.
Gleason has had his moment in the sun with his statue being unveiled last week. His legacy will live on regardless of numbers, so his exclusion is acceptable.
"The Beerman" Michael Lewis was the Saints' version of "Rudy." No college ball, and went from indoor league to arena league until finally making his mark with his hometown team and didn't disappoint. His prolific 2002 season of all-purpose yardage record lasted a decade until similarly diminutive Darren Sproles surpassed that just last season.
Danny Abramowicz, along with Archie Manning, were the face of the Saints until the Dome Patrol came around in the late 80's. He and Manning were definitely one of those prolific duos that were in the wrong era with a terrible team around them.
Morten Andersen should be the next Saint in the Pro Football Hall of Fame unless Drew Brees beats him to it. (By the way, Brees will have his number retired immediately after he retires, but this list is for former players.)
Andersen was the entire Saints offense while he was in New Orleans from 1982-1994. Oh yeah, he was also money from inside of 40 yards. In those 13 years, he only missed nine field goals from inside the 40-yard line out of 217. You think that's good?
How about the countless game-tying or winning kicks he had that saved a lot of games for the Saints when there wasn't much production coming from Carl Smith's three-runs-and-punt offense?
He wasn't too shabby from beyond 40 yards, either. Sixty percent from that range is not bad at all.
His 1,318 points scored will stay a Saints record for years to come.
Willie Roaf's job was never to be the headliner unless he was flagged which wasn't much. And I'm sure he liked it that way.
Roaf rocked the professor look away from the sidelines, and on the field he stood up defensive ends and tackles and kept the terrible run of quarterbacks that the Saints went through in his time there.
From Wade Wilson to Aaron Brooks, they all learned one thing: We might be terrible quarterbacks, but we don't have to worry about someone sacking us from Willie's side!
Roaf has earned his number never being worn again. Especially from a defensive tackle; yes, I am talking to Brodrick Bunkley. I don't care how good you could be, Roaf has earned the right to keep his number up in the rafters and not down in the trenches.
If anyone in the Who Dat Nation had deja vu during the 2009 season, it was because Darren Sharper was reminding a lot of people of old number 29 roaming the Saints secondary years ago.
Sammy Knight's six years down in New Orleans were prolific, and what is even more impressive is he had this amazing career undrafted out of USC in 1997.
In his six years with the Saints he had 440 tackles, 10 fumble recoveries, 28 interceptions (and returned four of those for touchdowns).
His best year was in 2001 when his stat line read something silly like 80 tackles, six interceptions, five fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
Overall, Knight had the ball in his hands 38 times while playing strong safety for the Saints, and the next time Saints fans should see the number 29 it should be raising to rafters of the Superdome.
Joe Horn replaced Eric Martin in a lot of the Saints receiving records during his seven years down in New Orleans.
He was probably the main guy to make Aaron Brooks not look like a bonehead game in and game out due to the fact that all he did was make plays. Nothing to do with his personality because, as you know, that was nothing short of his nickname, Hollywood.
In those seven years, Horn had over 500 receptions and 7,500 receiving yards while also hauling in 50 touchdowns.
He talked a lot of those years, but always backed it up. He was also very helpful in getting the city of New Orleans through Hurricane Katrina, among others.
His 87 has been marred by Adrian Arrington's appearance in it. I don't care how "impressive" he's looked in practices this camp.
When you saw number 26 run on the field, the entire crowd at the Superdome would let out a long "Deuce" roar, and that continued after big plays which were continuous during his eight years with the black and gold.
Deuce will go down in Saints history as their best running back, over George Rogers and Dalton Hillard.
He racked up over 7,000 yards from scrimmage and over 50 touchdowns while three of his years were either lost to injury or his rookie year behind Ricky Williams.
Being from nearby Mississippi, McAllister quickly became a fan favorite, and his running style didn't hurt either.
I remember a couple of plays during a Green Bay game in 2002 when Deuce's stubborn running style really became a fan favorite. He ran 50 yards for a touchdown, but it was negated because of a holding play. After a two-yard loss by James Fenderson (who?) Deuce breaks out for a 62-yard touchdown run on the same play as before. Except this one counted.
Those are the type of plays that a lot of Saints fans hold dear to them when speaking of number 26. Which should soon be taken out of rotation and put in the Dome for the entire Who Dat Nation to see.