Jim Haslett taking Deuce McAllister in the first round seems like a lifetime ago.
Saints' fans expressed confusion and dismay since they already had Ricky Williams and the Saints needed Defensive help (as usual). Some took it as a sign that Jim Haslett had enough of Williams' strange behavior. Others felt it was just Haslett taking the best player available.
In his first season with the Saints, Deuce had little playing time and never complained. He has always been the consummate professional. At the end of the year, Mcallister showed his enormous potential by breaking off a 54 yard touchdown run.
After Ricky Williams was traded to the Miami Dolphins on March 08, 2002, it was clear that Deuce would be the man. Some Saints fans were uneasy about the move but, Haslett was sure that Deuce was the man for the job.
The decision to start Mcallister proved to be one of the better personnel decisions by Haslett. Deuce took the league by storm by rushing for over a thousand yards for three straight years. He proved to be the prototypical, every down back. Not only could he move the pile between the tackles, he could be elusive with his outstanding speed.
Fast forward to 2005. New Orleans was devastated by Katrina and the Saints were devastated by the loss of their running back in week five after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
Deuce came back strong with new Coach Sean Payton. He rushed for 1057 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2006. The Saints had a great year and went to their first NFC Championship ever. Hopes were high in New Orleans with Deuce and New running back Reggie Bush giving defensive coordinator fits.
Tragedy struck again as Deuce suffered an ACL injury in his left knee on September 24th, 2007. Deuce handled the situation with class as usual, and worked hard to get back on the field.
As the 2008 season started, Deuce stated he was ready to play. But, coach Sean Payton has been reluctant to use him. Saints fans have been crying out for more Deuce but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Most feel that Payton is trying to faze him out slowly.
Whatever happens from this point on, let's try to remember the good times when Deuce was a god. He is easily the most beloved player since Archie Manning and maybe the most beloved player the Saints had. He has surpassed George Rogers as the all-time Saints rushing leader with over 5,000 yards.
Deuce never yearned for the spotlight. He never demanded a bigger contract with lengthy holdouts and so forth. He is the rare NFL player that kids can look to as a role model. He has the Catch 22 Foundation, which is dedicated to under-privileged youth and adolescents in the Gulf South Region.
Is this the end for Deuce? Maybe. But, one can't help but think that he deserves better then to waste away on the bench. Players like him are so rare that there must be a more tactful way to handle the situation then this.
Something tells me that if Sean Payton could feel the pain that Saints fans have in their hearts for Deuce, he would play him every down.