The Best New Orleans Saints Not In The Pro Football Hall Of Fame (Offense)

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The Best New Orleans Saints Not In The Pro Football Hall Of Fame (Offense)
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Thanks to the tireless efforts of David Dixon, the Saints were born in the Big Easy in 1967. Dixon, who was also the creator of the Louisiana Superdome and the United States Football League (USFL), would bring the team their first winning season 20 years later because of his USFL connections.

New Orleans had to exude patience those first few decades because their team consistently struggled like no other in the NFL. They won just 46 of their first 165 games until their first .500 season in 1979.

Things got so bad for the team's fans that they started wearing paper bags over their heads during games. They called the team the "Aint's." Though the team had lost much more than they had won, there are moments of history to acknowledge on the New Orleans gridiron.

In 1970, a kicker named Tom Dempsey set an NFL record by making a 63-yard field goal. This record still stands today. Archie Manning endured years of beatings at the quarterback position, but his 1979 season saw him become the first Saint to be named NFC Most Valuable Player.

The team's fortunes began to change after drafting George Rogers with the first pick of the 1981 draft. Rogers, who had won the Heisman Trophy the year before, became the first Saints player to win the Rookie of the Year award. Halfback Rueben Mayes, who won the award in 1986, is the only other Saint to win it. 

Then, the USFL, which was born in 1982, folded in 1985. Dixon brought many players from that league to his team, as well as head coach Jim Mora Sr. Mora would stay with the team until 1996, winning a team record 93 games—New Orleans had only won 83 games before he arrived.

 

The Saints have had just 10 losing seasons since the Mora hire. They made their first playoffs under his direction, yet never won in four tries while he was there. The franchise won their first playoff game in 2000 and put it all together in 2009 when they won Super Bowl XLIV.

 

When the franchise started, there were Hall of Famers like Doug Atkins and Jim Taylor finishing out their legendary careers as members of the Saints. Earl Campbell also played two years with them. Hall of Famers like Tom Fears, Hank Stram, and Mike Ditka had unsuccessful stints as a head coach with the team.

 

The first Saints player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was linebacker Ricky Jackson in 2010. Jim Finks, who was the general manager of the Saints for seven years, is their only other representative currently, but his work as general manager for the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears also played a big part into his induction.

 

There should be more Saints headed to Canton soon. Willie Roaf almost made the 2011 class and his induction is a foregone conclusion. Other Saints greats like Sam Mills, Pat Swilling, and Morten Andersen also have legitimate shots at being inducted.

 

The team got their name from the song "When The Saints Go Marching In", a famous jazz tune in a city where jazz music is king. These Saints have been marching to the tune of NFL excellence the last few years, which was desperately needed by the city.

 

Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005 so much that the Superdome, where the Saints play their home games, became a refuge to displaced residents for months. Owner Tom Benson had been previously contemplating moving the team to Los Angeles, but the storm beckoned the franchise to take a leadership role.

 

The team went all the way to the NFC Championship game in 2006, which united the city as one. Their players, who had taken part in the clean up efforts to restore New Orleans, became more brethren than hero.

 

Since then, the team has become the biggest attraction for the locals. NFL fans have watched the Saints offense explode all over the league as well. Quarterback Drew Brees won the NFC Offensive MVP three times with the Saints, as well as Super Bowl XLIV MVP. He has set several team and league records with the team.

 

The "Aint's" are a distant memory today, but they also should be remembered for taking a small role in the success of today. Though the franchise has lost 97 more games than they have won since 1967, their 49 wins since 2006 show a franchise on the rise and on the verge of championship competition once again.

 

REMEMBER : This Is A Team Of Greats Who Are Not, And Maybe Never Will Be, Inducted into The Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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