New Orleans Saints' 8 Most Underrated Players in Franchise History
In an offseason so exciting that we don't even know when our next real football game will be played, it is finally time to give into the historical jibber jabber of making lists about anything and everything related to our team.
In the first installment, it is our goal to name the eight most underrated players in New Orleans Saints franchise history. For someone who has only been following the team closely for five seasons and only been alive for 24, this is a stretching exercise.
But I think by the time we've finished, we'll find that the Saints have had some excellent players who many outside of the Crescent City may not know much about.
8. Center Jeff Faine
Sure, Faine's stay in New Orleans was short, but his effect on the team has lasted to this day. In 2006, the Saints made a number of moves in free agency and the draft that would up the level of the talent on the team.
Perhaps none were more shrewd than when they essentially flipped LeCharles Bentley for Jeff Faine. Bentley never played another regular season game; whereas Faine was the ultimate professional center who was so key to establishing an offensive identity for the Saints.
The fact he's gone to Tampa and helped clear up their offensive line issues only further proves his value.
Sure, the Saints won the Super Bowl with Jonathan Goodwin at center, but they would have never become the offense they are if not for Faine providing instant stability back in 2006.
7. WR Jerome Pathon
The former Washington Husky had his hands (literally) in a fair share of memorable plays in the Saints' franchise history. Whether it be here when he was part of the famous hook-and-ladder versus the Jaguars, or his clutch performance in the Saints' first playoff win versus the Rams in 2000, Pathon cannot be forgotten by Saints fans any time soon.
6. DT Norman Hand
Hand is a guy who always stood out even from afar. I was not a Saints fan while Hand was a Saint, but I knew who the guy was.
He was a Second Team All Pro in 2000, but his play stood out for a good five years even among a defensive line that included Darren Howard and La'Roi Glover.
And he gets props for having a sweet name too.
5. T Kyle Turley
Yes, Turley is probably best known for an ugly helmet throwing incident, but it was that very intensity that made Turley the beast of a tackle that he was.
He protected Aaron Brooks' backside and opened up running holes for years as a Saint. I give him props too for being a fellow San Diego State Aztec alum.
I think Turley would have gone down as an all-time great if his career hadn't been marred by injuries and his supposed character issues.
4. CB Fred Thomas
I know Thomas' time in New Orleans ended poorly and sadly, as he greatly struggled in his final year, especially in the playoffs.
But this guy was a First Team All Pro in 2002, and that has to count for something. In my opinion, if you ever make an all pro Team, there are only two options--you are either considered one of the best at your position in franchise history, or you're completely underrated.
In Thomas' case, it is the latter.
3. QB Billy Kilmer
Yes, Kilmer was among the main reasons the Saints were as bad as they were for as long as they were. Well, actually he just happened to be on really bad teams.
The truth is that Kilmer was a good quarterback stuck on bad rosters and under-performing units. He did put up decent numbers, and he became a really good quarterback for the Washington Redskins.
It seems fair to say that Kilmer was an underrated Saint, so much so that he was regularly booed. Too bad, because he was actually one heck of a player.
2. LB Mark Fields
I realize that by most accounts Mark Fields should not be underrated. But the truth of the matter is that many football fans do not remember just how good a player this guy was.
He never made any all pro teams or rookie teams, never won any awards period--as a member of the Saints. In my opinion he was good enough to, but the team was relatively lousy during his tenure on the team.
If he had played on the division-winning teams in the late '80s or the Super Bowl team in '09, everybody would remember this guy as a GREAT linebacker.
1. S Sammy Knight
Sadly Sammy Knight ended up playing for a number of different teams by the end of his career, but the start he had as a member of the Saints was amazing.
Few safeties had the natural ball skills and play-making ability as Knight. It's a shame the Saints couldn't figure out a way to keep Knight at the end of his contract because he continued to have good years for the Dolphins for a number of years after leaving the New Orleans.
Okay, so the Pierre Thomas photos were a bit of a tease. I decided it wasn't really fair to place any current Saints on the list, since we don't know how their ultimate fate as beloved heroes will end.
Just know that Thomas would likely be among this group if he were not active.