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The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football team based in New Orleans, Louisianamarker. The Saints play in the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL).

The Saints were founded in 1967 as an expansion team. They went more than a decade before they managed to finish a season with a .500 record, and two decades before having a winning season. The team's first successful years were from 1987–1992, when the team made the playoffs four times and had winning records in the non-playoff seasons. In the 2000 season, the Saints defeated the then-defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams for the team's first playoff win.

Since 1975, the Saints' home stadium is the Louisiana Superdomemarker. However, due to the damage Hurricane Katrina caused to the Superdome and the New Orleans area, the Saints' scheduled 2005 home opener against the New York Giants was moved to Giants Stadiummarker. The remainder of their 2005 home games were split between the Alamodomemarker in San Antonio, Texasmarker, and LSU's Tiger Stadiummarker in Baton Rouge, Louisianamarker. After a $185 million renovation of the historic stadium, the team returned to the Superdome for the 2006 season. The team played its 2006 home opener in front of a sold-out crowd and national television audience on September 25, 2006, defeating its NFC South rival, the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 23–3. The victory received a 2007 ESPY award for "Best Moment in Sports."

New Orleans is one of five NFL teams that have yet to play in a Super Bowl. The club reached the NFC Championship Game in 2006, which they lost to the Chicago Bears 39-14.

The Saints conduct summer training camp at their practice facility in Metairie, Louisianamarker at 5800 Airline Hwy.

History

Early history

For more information, see History of the New Orleans Saints

The brainchild of local sports entrepreneur David Dixon, who also founded the Louisiana Superdomemarker and USFL, the Saints were actually secretly born in a backroom deal brought about by Congressman Hale Boggs and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. The NFL needed congressional approval of the proposed AFL-NFL merger. To seal the deal, Rozelle arrived in New Orleans within a week, and announced on November 1, 1966 that the NFL officially had awarded the city of New Orleans an NFL franchise. Since November 1st is the Catholic All Saints' Day, the team adopted the nickname "Saints." Boggs' Congressional committee in turn quickly approved the NFL merger. John W. Mecom, Jr., a young oilman from Houston, became the team's first majority stockholder. The team's colors, black and gold, symbolized both Mecom's and New Orleans' strong ties to the oil ("black gold") industry. Trumpeter Al Hirt was part owner of the team, and his rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" was made the official fight song.

That first season started with a 94 yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown by John Gilliam, but the Saints lost that game 27–13 to the Los Angeles Rams at Tulane Stadiummarker. Their first season record was 3–11, which set an NFL record for most wins by an expansion team. However, they could not manage to finish as high as second in their division until 1979. That 1979 team and the 1983 team were the only ones to even finish at .500 until 1987.

One of the franchise's shining moments came on November 8, 1970, when Tom Dempsey kicked an NFL record-breaking 63-yard field goal to defeat the Detroit Lions by a score of 19-17 in the final seconds of the game. This record, although equaled 29 years later by Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos, has yet to be broken.

In 1980, the Saints lost their first 14 games, prompting local media personality Bernard "Buddy D" Diliberto to advise Saints supporters to wear paper bags over their heads at the team's home games; many bags rendered the club's name as the "'Aint" rather than the "Saints." The practice of wearing a bag over one's head then spread rapidly, first to fans of other poorly-performing teams within the NFL, and ultimately to those of other American team sports, and has become a firmly-established custom throughout the United Statesmarker.

Current Saints owner Tom Benson acquired the franchise in 1985, and hired Jim Finks as general manager and Jim Mora as head coach. That combination provided the Saints with their first-ever winning record and playoff appearance, going 12-3 in 1987, which had one fewer game than normal due to a players' strike. Another playoff berth would follow in 1990, and the club's first division title came in 1991. During Mora's tenure the Saints made the playoffs four times, with teams marked by strong defenses led by the "Dome Patrol" linebacking corps, but they were never able to win a playoff game. Mora coached the Saints until the middle of the 1996 season, when he stepped down halfway through a 3-13 season.

After the end of the 1996 season, ironically as Diliberto had suggested before Mora's resignation, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka was hired to replace Mora. Although this initially generated a lot of excitement among Saints fans, Ditka's tenure ended up being a failure. The Saints went 6-10 in their first two seasons under Ditka (1997 and 1998). During the 1999 NFL Draft, Ditka traded all of his picks for that season, as well as the first-round and third-round picks for the following season, to the Washington Redskins in order to draft University of Texasmarker Heisman Trophy running back Ricky Williams in the first round. Ditka and Williams had a mock wedding picture taken to commemorate the occasion. However, Ditka, most of his coaching staff, and general manager Bill Kuharich were fired at the end of the 1999 season due to the club's 3-13 record.

Jim Haslett held the post from 2000 to 2005. In his first year, he took the team to the playoffs but lost to the Minnesota Vikings a week after beating the St. Louis Rams for the team's first ever playoff win. After winning the 2000 NFL Executive of the Year Award, General Manager Randy Mueller was fired between the 2001 and 2002 seasons without explanation by Benson. The Saints failed to make the playoffs in 2001 and 2002, although in the latter year they had the distinction of beating the eventual Super Bowl XXXVII champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in both of their regular season meetings, only the second team to do so in NFL history (the 1995 Washington Redskins did so against the to be Superbowl Champion Dallas Cowboys). In 2003 the Saints again missed the playoffs after finishing 8-8. The 2004 season started poorly for the Saints, as they went 2-4 through their first six games and 4-8 through their first twelve games. At that point Haslett's job appeared to be in jeopardy; however, he managed to win the three straight games leading up to the season finale, leaving the Saints in playoff contention in the final week of the season. In week 17, the Saints defeated division rivals Carolina; however, the Saints needed other results to break their way and when the St. Louis Rams beat the New York Jets the Saints were eliminated despite having beaten the Rams, who finished with the same record. The Rams, Saints, and Vikings all were 8-8, with the Rams having a 7-5 conference record, Saints 6-6, and the Vikings 5-7. The Rams received the #1 Wildcard due to having the best conference record out of the 3, followed by the Vikings due to the 33-16 loss handed to the Saints in Week 3. Haslett was fired after the 2005 season, in which the Saints finished 3-13 and did not play one regular season contest in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina. On January 17, 2006, the Saints hired Sean Payton as their new head coach.

Effect of Hurricane Katrina

2006: Homecoming and postseason

On March 23, the Saints announced that the team's two 2006 preseason games were to be played at Shreveport, Louisianamarker and Jackson, Mississippimarker.

On April 6 the Saints released their 2006 schedule, with all home games scheduled to be played at the Superdome. The home opener against the Atlanta Falcons was moved to September 25 and was shown on ESPN's Monday Night Football.

On September 19, Saints owner Tom Benson announced that the team had sold out the Louisiana Superdomemarker for the entire season with season tickets alone (70,001 seats), a first in franchise history.

The September 25, 2006 home opener, the first home game in New Orleansmarker after Hurricane Katrina, was won by the Saints 23-3 against the Atlanta Falcons, who were undefeated in the 2006 season at that time. The attendance for the game was a sellout crowd of 70,003. Meanwhile, the broadcast of the game was ESPN's highest-ever rated program to date, with an 11.8 rating, and viewership by 10,850,000 homes. It was the most-watched program for the night, broadcast or cable, and was the second-highest rated cable program of all time. Green Day and U2 performed "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and "The Saints Are Coming" , respectively, before the game.

On December 17, 2006, the Saints clinched their third division title and their first NFC South title in franchise history. For the first time in Saints' history, they clinched their NFC South title on their home field. Sean Payton became the second consecutive Saints coach to win a division title in his first season. After a loss by the Dallas Cowboys to the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Day 2006, the Saints clinched a first-round playoff bye for the first time in franchise history.

After the first-round bye, the Saints beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-24 in the Superdome in the 2006 Divisional Playoffs. No team had ever had such a poor record in the prior year (3-13) and then went on to a league or conference championship game since the 1999 St. Louis Rams who advanced to win their first Super Bowl after being 4-12 the season before. Since the Saints' only other playoff win was in the wild card round, this is the farthest the Saints have ever advanced. The victory was only the second playoff win in team history.

The season ended on January 21, 2007 when the Saints lost 39–14 to the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game.

2007-present

The Saints announced that for the second year in a row, the Louisiana Superdomemarker had sold out every ticket for the season. Additionally, all luxury boxes had been sold out for the season. Both of these statistics are particularly surprising given that the city-proper has about 300,000 people or 150,000 fewer people than July 2005 population data (though the metro area still accounts for 1.2 million people). .

The first game of the season was against the defending Super Bowl XLI champion Indianapolis Colts. The Saints lost this game, 41–10, and lost their next three games. In one of these three games, against the Tennessee Titans, the Saints lost running back Deuce McAllister for the season with his second career (second time in three seasons) ACL tear. After winning their first game, against the Seattle Seahawks, two weeks later, the team went on a four-game winning streak to bring their record to an even 4–4. After reaching 7–7, the Saints lost their final two games to finish 7–9.

The Saints made a move with the Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants. They acquired Jeremy Shockey from them for second and fifth round draft picks in the 2009 NFL Draft. They also acquired linebacker Jonathan Vilma from the New York Jets, in exchange for a conditional 2009 4th round draft pick. In the 2009 NFL draft the Saints selected Malcolm Jenkins with the 14th overall pick, a cornerback from Ohio State University. As of December 1, 2009, the Saints are 11-0, the first time in their franchise history and are one of only two undefeated teams (the other being the Indianapolis Colts), leading the NFC South.

Logos and uniforms

New Orleans Saints uniform combination
New Orleans Saints alternate uniform: 2002 season
Except for minor modifications, the Saints' logo and uniforms have basically remained the same since the club debuted in 1967. The team's logo is a fleur-de-lis (a symbol of the City of New Orleans and of France's Bourbon monarchy), while its uniform design consists of gold helmets, gold pants, and either black or white jerseys. Minor changes to the uniform stripes and trim have been made throughout the years. The team wore black helmets during the 1969 preseason, but NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle barred the Saints from using the helmets during the regular season, since owner John Mecom, Jr. did not notify the league office of the change.

The Saints predominantly wore white at home when the club played at Tulane Stadiummarker from 1967 through 1974 (except in 1969 and 1970), forcing opponents to wear dark colors in the subtropical climate of New Orleans. When the surface at Tulane Stadium switched from natural grass to AstroTurf in 1971, field temperatures became hotter still. In Archie Manning's first game, in the 1971 season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, temperatures on the field reached as high as 130 degrees. The heavily favored Rams wilted in the stifling heat, and the Saints claimed their first-ever victory over their NFC West rivals, 24-20, on Manning's 1-yard quarterback sneak on the last play of the game.

The Saints switched to white pants in 1975, coinciding with the team's move from Tulane Stadium to the Superdome. One year later, they started to wear black pants with their white jerseys, a move influenced by coach Hank Stram, who introduced red pants to the Kansas City Chiefs' uniforms in 1968. In an October 3, 1976 home game against the Houston Oilers, Hank Stram used the Saints' road uniforms, the white jerseys and black pants. The Saints lost that game 31–26. During the 1981–82 seasons (Bum Phillips' first two seasons as coach), the team wore white jerseys with black pants at home, but reverted back to the black jerseys and white pants for 1983. They reverted back to wearing gold pants with both their black and white jerseys in 1986 under new coach Jim E. Mora. From 1986 through 1995, the sleeves of the jerseys and sides of the pants featured a logo with a fleur-de-lis inside an outline of the state of Louisianamarker. The logo replaced the striping pattern that had been on the uniforms since the team's inception; save for color variations, the striping pattern was similar to that used by the Washington Redskins (until 1979), Green Bay Packers (until 1997), and Cleveland Browns (still in use ), which is likely why the change was made. That logo was removed in 1996 and replaced with a fleur-de-lis on both the sleeves and sides of the pants.

From 1996 through 1998, the Saints returned to gold numbers on both the white and black jerseys, but complaints about the numbers on the white jerseys being too difficult to read forced the numbers on the white jerseys to be changed to black in 1999. The Saints wore black pants with a wide gold stripe with their white jerseys in 1999, but following a 3-13 season and the dismissal of coach Mike Ditka, the black pants were mothballed by new coach Jim Haslett.

In 2000, the Saints won their first playoff game as they hosted the St. Louis Rams and after having a better road record than home record, they wore their white jerseys, helping them get a 31-28 win over the defending champion Rams. The defining play of the game came with the Saints clinging to a three-point lead with minutes to play. The Saints punted to the Rams' Az-Zahir Hakim (who would play one season for the Saints in 2005), who fumbled the punt deep in Rams' territory. Brian Milne recovered for the Saints, who then ran out the clock to preserve the victory.

In 2001, they wore their white jerseys in the first six home games. During that same year, they primarily wore black pants with both their white and black jerseys. They became the first NFL team to wear all-black uniforms in a week 5 road game against the Carolina Panthers, and again in weeks 16 and 17 in home games against the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers. (It is notable that the all-black outfit made a comeback on December 3, 2006 in a 34-10 victory over the 49ers. The team used it the week after against the Dallas Cowboys on December 10, 2006 in a 42-17 victory.)

In 2002, the Saints wore black pants with their white jerseys (except for the final road game, a 20-13 loss in Cincinnatimarker when they went back to the gold pants), and gold pants with their black jerseys, a gold alternate jersey, and a 1967-style throwback uniform. But one season later, they stopped using the alternates and again reverted back to wearing gold pants with both their black and white jerseys.

The team introduced a gold alternate jersey (worn with the black pants) during a December 15, 2002 game versus the Minnesota Vikings, a 32-31 loss, but have never worn them since then. Because of the metallic gold's bright color, the gold jerseys were considered the "light" jersey in the game, so the Vikings wore their purple home jerseys as the "dark" colored team. One team must wear "dark" and one team must wear "light", the only exception being if both teams are wearing throwback uniforms, such as Thanksgiving Classic games. Today only the New England Patriots have a "light" jersey (their alternate, a bright metallic silver) that isn't white in which the other team would wear their colored, or "dark" jerseys against them since the third jersey rule was implemented in the NFL in 2002.

The Saints also introduced a 1967-style throwback uniform in a 23-20 win in week 13 (December 1) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This also was never worn again but re-introduction of the jerseys in stores suggests they may make a comeback as the Saints' alternate uniform.

In 2006, to honor their return to Louisiana, the Saints wore a patch on their uniforms with an outline of the State of Louisiana with a fleur-de-lis superimposed, similar to the logo from the 1980s.

The Saints originally planned to wear white jerseys at home for the 2006 season, but during the season, the players voted to wear the black jerseys at home after the second home game. Since the team had informed the NFL office that they planned to wear white jerseys at home, each of the Saints' remaining home opponents would have to agree to New Orleans' request. The Cincinnati Bengals did not agree to the switch, forcing the Saints to wear white jerseys for that game.

Starting in week 13 of the 2006 season, the Saints wore white jerseys with black pants and in a Week 16 game in The Meadowlands against the New York Giants (a 30-7 Saints win), the Saints wore the black pants with their road white jerseys. The Saints later stuck with that combo in the NFC Champhionship in Chicago.

The Saints wore white jerseys for their first four home games of 2008. Three of the four games the white jerseys with black pants combination were worn at home, while the white jerseys with gold pants combination were worn for the first of those four games. The Saints chose to wear the all-black combination for the October 26 game at Wembley Stadiummarker in Londonmarker vs. the San Diego Chargers, in which New Orleans was the designated home team. They also wore black jerseys with black pants for the rest of their home games at the Superdome following the game at London. The Saints wore their white jerseys at home for the first three home games of 2009. All with the white jerseys and gold pants combination. They have worn the all-black combo the last two home games.

Statistics

Season-by-season records

Record vs. Opponents

(As of Week 12 of the 2009 NFL season. Includes postseason records.)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21 14 0 .600 W 38-7 November 22, 2009 Tampa, FLmarker
Kansas City Chiefs 5 4 0 .556 W 30-20 November 10, 2008 Kansas City, MOmarker
Buffalo Bills 5 4 0 .556 W 27-7 September 27, 2009 Orchard Park, NYmarker
New York Jets 6 5 0 .545 W 24-10 October 4, 2009 New Orleans, LA
Detroit Lions 10 9 1 .526 W 45-27 September 13, 2009 New Orleans, LA
Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders 5 5 1 .500 W 34-3 October 12, 2008 New Orleans, LA
Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts 5 5 0 .500 L 41-10 September 6, 2007 Indianapolis, INmarker
Seattle Seahawks 5 5 0 .500 W 28-17 October 14, 2007 Seattle, WAmarker
Jacksonville Jaguars 2 2 0 .500 W 41-24 November 4, 2007 New Orleans, LA
Houston Texans 1 1 0 .500 L 23-10 November 18, 2007 Houston, TXmarker
St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 12 13 0 .480 W 31-24 December 16, 2007 New Orleans, LA
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 7 0 .462 L 38-31 November 12, 2006 Pittsburgh, PAmarker
Cincinnati Bengals 5 6 0 .455 L 31-16 November 19, 2006 New Orleans, LA
Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams 31 38 0 .449 W 28-23 November 15, 2009 St. Louis, MOmarker 1-0 postseason
Atlanta Falcons 36 45 0 .444 W 35-27 November 2, 2009 New Orleans, LA 0-1 postseason
New York Giants 11 14 0 .440 W 48-27 October 18, 2009 New Orleans, LA
Carolina Panthers 13 16 0 .429 W 30-20 November 08, 2009 New Orleans, LA
Chicago Bears 11 15 0 .423 L 27-24 December 11, 2008 Chicago, ILmarker 0-2 postseason
Philadelphia Eagles 11 16 0 .407 W 48-22 September 20, 2009 Philadelphia, PA 1-1 postseason
Miami Dolphins 4 6 0 .400 W 46-34 October 25, 2009 [[Miami, FL]] || |- | [[Tennessee Titans|Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans]] || 4 || 7 || 1 || .375 || L 31-14 || September 24, 2007 || New Orleans, LA || |- | [[Dallas Cowboys]] || 8 || 14 || 0 || .364 || W 42-17 || December 10, 2006 || [[Irving, TX]] || |- | [[San Francisco 49ers]] || 23 || 45 || 2 || .343 || W 31-17 || September 28, 2008 || New Orleans, LA || |- | [[Green Bay Packers]] || 7 || 14 || 0 || .333 || W 51-29 || November 24, 2008 || New Orleans, LA || |- | [[New England Patriots]] || 4 || 8 || 0 || .333 || W 38-17 || November 30, 2009 || [[New Orleans, LA]] || |- | [[Washington Redskins]] || 7 || 15 || 0 || .318 || L 29-24 || September 14, 2008 || [[Landover, MD]] || |- | [[San Diego Chargers]] || 3 || 7 || 0 || .300 || W 37-32 || October 26, 2008 || **[[London]], [[England]] || |- | [[Minnesota Vikings]] || 7 || 20 || 0 || .259 || L 30-27 || October 6, 2008 || New Orleans, LA || 0-2 postseason |- | [[Cleveland Browns]] || 4 || 11 || 0 || .267 || W 19-14 || September 10, 2006 || [[Cleveland, OH]] || |- | [[Baltimore Ravens]] || 1 || 3 || 0 || .250 || L 35-22 || October 29, 2006 || New Orleans, LA || |- | [[Denver Broncos]] || 2 || 7 || 0 || .222 || L 34-32 || September 21, 2008 || [[Denver, CO]] || |- | Total || 273 || 375 || 5 || .421 || || || || 2-6 .250 {{end box}} ** - the Saints were designated the home team for this game

Single-Game Records



Single-season records



Saints career records



Players of note

Current roster

Pro Football Hall of Famersmarker



It should be noted that with the exception of Jim Finks, whose tenure with the Saints contributed to his induction, there are no members of the HOF who are there for their time with the team. All are in for their work with previous teams.

Retired numbers

  • 31 Jim Taylor (officially retired, but is assigned to active players)
  • 81 Doug Atkins (officially retired, but is assigned to active players)
  • 57 Rickey Jackson (officially retired, but is assigned to active players)
The number 8 has not been officially retired, but has not been issued to any Saints player since Archie Manning was traded to the Houston Oilers in September 1982.

New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame

The Saints Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization created by and for fans of the team to protect, preserve, promote and present the history of the franchise. The Saints Hall of Fame is located at 415 Williams Boulevard in the Rivertown section of Kenner. Open from 9 am-5 pm Tuesday through Saturday, the Hall of Fame features exhibits and memorabilia covering the entire history of the Saints from their formation through the current season. Due to building damage received during Hurricane Katrina the Hall of Fame is temporarily located at Gate B in the New Orleans Superdome and can be visited for free at every Saints home game. Fans can view videotapes on Saints history and the Saints Hall of Famers as well participate in interactive exhibits throughout the Hall. The facility, which originally opened on July 16, 1988, was expanded to twice its' original size in January 2004. Busts and paintings of each of the inductees along with their career highlights are one of the focal points of the museum, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the Saints franchise. New Orleans and Green Bay are the only two NFL franchises with a team Hall of Fame facility.



Joe Gemelli "Fleur-De-Lis" Award

Awarded yearly to a person who has contributed to the betterment of the New Orleans Saints organization.
  • 1989: Al Hirt
  • 1990: Joe Gemelli
  • 1991: Dave Dixon
  • 1992: Charlie Kertz
  • 1993: Wayne Mack
  • 1994: Erby Aucoin
  • 1995: Aaron Broussard
  • 1996: Marie Knutson
  • 1997: Angela Hill
  • 1998: Joe Impastato
  • 1999: Frank Wilson
  • 2000: Bob Remy
  • 2001: Peter "Champ" Clark
  • 2002: Dean Kleinschmidt
  • 2003: Jim Fast
  • 2004: Bob Roesler
  • 2005-06: Bernard "Buddy" Diliberto (2005 induction ceremonies postponed to October 27, 2006 due to Hurricane Katrina)*
  • 2007: New Orleans Saints fans
  • 2008: Barra Birrcher
  • 2009: Jerry Romig


Notable coaches

Current staff

Radio and television

The Saints' flagship station is WWL 870AMmarker (FM Simulcast on WWL 105.3FM), one of the oldest radio stations in the city of New Orleans and one of the nation's most powerful as a clear-channel station with 50,000 watts of power. Jim Henderson and Hokie Gajan form the broadcast team. Most preseason games are televised on Cox Sports Television and WVUEmarker-TV-Channel-8. Tim Brando and Solomon Wilcots call the preseason action.

References

  1. Louisiana Superdome history site (accessed 2009 April 21) (From 1967 to 1974 inclusive the Saints played at Tulane Stadium.)
  2. saintsdoggle: UPDATE: Saints sell out suites for 2007 season; Season ticket wait list 25,000 deep; San Antonio finally giving up?
  3. Pro Football Hall of Fame page for Mike Ditka.
  4. New Orleans Saints - Saints Hall of Fame Info
  5. Brian Allee-Walsh, "Ex-Saints coach Jim Mora says Morten Andersen a shoo-in for Canton, Ohio", Times-Picayune, November 6, 2009.


External links




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