Saints Mount Rushmore
This is an post I wrote for my blog. Let me know what you think.
Each team in the NFL has a Hall of Fame full of players that have made major contributions in one form or another that have added to their team's history. The New Orleans Saints are no different as several players from their previously tortured history have been honored by providing the formerly beleaguered fan base with glimmers of hope.
Now imagine for a second, if you will, that the Saints organization announced they were opening a museum to honor not only the team's past but their present and future. The team's timeline would be highlighted starting from the founding of the franchise to the glory days of the Dome Patrol to their first playoff win and finally the Super Bowl win and beyond.
The museum would be hypothetically placed near the Saints practice facility or perhaps adjacent to the Super Dome. A black visage with gilded columns would present itself to visitors upon arrival. Fleur-de-lis would adorn each glass door and upon entering your senses would be bombarded with Saints nostalgia. The first sight would be an electronic Gumbo and Sir Saint on either side of the door waving at guests as they enter.
Wax figures of famous Saints from the past and present would be presented in three separate wings – tortured years with Archie Manning as the highlight, the Dome Patrol years, and finally the present era where Drew Brees and Sean Payton would be the highlight. It would have an entire room dedicated to Jim Mora that feature interactive exhibits that would house sound bites of his famous quotes - “coulda, woulda, should”, “diddly poo”, and others to name a few.
Jerseys of Archie Manning, Pat Swilling, Vaughn Johnson, Eric Martin, Michael “Beer Man” Lewis, Sammy Knight, and other key figures, along with other Saints memorabilia (Tom Dempsey's shoe, for example) would adorn the walls. The museum would also house the beloved Lombardi Trophy and George Halas trophy. Also featured would be images and life-size caricatures of famous Saints fans – the Saints transformer guy, the “eff the Eagles” chick, Saint Moses, and others. Of course, a special room dedicated solely to the late, great Buddy “D” Diliberto would be right next to the Jim Mora room. Which Saints fans can forget Buddy D urging you to buy Domino's “pizzer” before the game.
However, the pinnacle of the museum would be the Saints Mount Rushmore which features the four figures in Saints history that truly epitomized what it meant to “be a Saint”. Before arriving at the highlight of the museum guests would first enter the Saints Gallery that honors the six players that almost made Saint Rushmore. Three statues of each of these players would stand one either side of the door which leads into the Saint Rushmore exhibit.
A selection of just six players for the gallery is difficult to do. Dalton Hilliard, “Ironhead” Heyward, Danny Abramowicz, George Rogers, Kyle Turley, Jay Bellamy and more are all deserving but when narrowing it down it becomes evident that some stand out more than the rest.
The New Orleans Saints have several key figures throughout their history that have made significant contributions to the team in one form or fashion. The only rules for the Gallery and Saint Rushmore would be that only players can be honored. General managers, owners, and SaintSations would be honored elsewhere in the museum. The two players closest to the door would be the two players who just missed the cut to have their busts featured on Saint Rushmore.
Archie Manning was the Saints most recognizable figure during the first years of the franchise and even into the first years of the 1980s. He was selected to the Pro Bowl twice when with the Saints and remains to this days as one of the most respected figures in franchise history.
The other player is perhaps one of the most beloved in Saints history. Every time he touched the ball the Super Dome erupted with fans screaming his name. Deuce McAllister truly epitomized what it meant to be a Saint from his Catch 22 Foundation to his worth ethic and leadership on teams that could never get over the hump. He was a two time Pro Bowl player, the first player in Saints history to rush for over 1,000 yards in three straight seasons, and is the Saints all time leading rusher.
The next player is a quarterback that was thought of so highly that Buddy D nominated him to take over his spot once he passed. The Father of the Who Dat Nation Bobby Hebert would stand right next to Archie Manning. The “Cajun Cannon”, while his reputation took a hit when he did the “dirty bird” on the Fleur-De-Lis when he was with Atlanta, remains a fixture in the Saints community and his loyalty remains staunch. Who can forget the way he celebrated in his press box during the Saints/Jets game?
The Dome Patrol was such a much respected linebacking unit that NFL Network named it to the best group in NFL history. One of the key figures on that unit was the “field mouse” Sam Mills. He had four Pro Bowl seasons with the Dome Patrol and epitomized the tenacity and heart of the Saints. His inspiration continued when he signed as a free agent with the expansion Carolina Panthers and served as a leader on their defense. He was so highly respected by that organization that they made him a coach once he retired.
The final two are wide receivers that were fan favorites. Eric Martin and Joe Horn were crowd pleasures with their sure hands and dedication to the team. Martin, one of the most reliable receivers in Saints history, holds numerous team receiving records and those that he doesn't hold belong to Horn, a leader and key figure for the Saints during the horrible Katrina season.
Those six players (Manning, McAllister, Hebert, Mills, Martin, and Horn) all stand for what it was to be a Saint and exhibiting the leadership and devotion to community that makes certain Saints players become adored to the fan base.
The following four players represent the best of the best of the Black and Gold and have achieved Sainthood by being the four that best represent the franchise on the Mount Rushmore of Saints players.
Rickey Jackson so far has been the only Saint inducted into the Hall of Fame. Jackson has 13 dominant seasons with the franchise, holds the record for most games played as a Saint, most sacks in a career, most seasons played as a Saint, and most sacks in a game. If any one player from the vaunted Dome Patrol defense is chosen to to be on Saint Rushmore then who better than Saint Rickey?
The next member of Saint Rushmore represents the international flair of New Orleans. A long time members of the team who holds numerous points scored records, reached the Pro Bowl multiple times, and holds an abundance of NFL records. The “Great Dane” Morten Andersen proved to be one of the most consistent kickers in league history which earned him the second nickname: “Mr. Automatic”. Like with most well-known Saints players, Andersen finished his career with the division rival Atlanta Falcons but to fans he will always be a Saint.
A nine year veteran for the Saints, an eleven time Pro Bowler, and member of two All-Decade teams is the next player to have his head placed on Saint Rushmore. A product of a Louisiana college, Willie Roaf's superiority stretched for 13 NFL seasons and despite his inglorious departure from the Saints he is still thought of highly by the fanbase. Roaf is perhaps the best player to ever don the Black and Gold and was on the team that gave the city of New Orleans its first playoff victory ever.
The final player to be on Saint Rushmore? How could it not be this man? He epitomizes everything that's good about the city of New Orleans. He's highly thought of by not only his teammates but his opponents. Only a stroke of fortune (could voodoo have been involved) landing him in the city and since his signing the franchise has seen a resurgence of unimaginable proportions. The marriage between quarterback and coach has been one made in football heaven. His number graces the backs of countless fans in not only New Orleans but across the Gulf Coast. He helped guide the Saints to the NFC Championship game and a Super Bowl victory. Drew Brees is everything a fan base could hope to have in a quarterback and more. With him behind center, the Saints will always have a chance for victory on the football field.
Rickey Jackson, Morten Andersen, Willie Roaf, and Drew Brees – the four men that grace the Mount Rushmore of Saints players.
I'm gonna support your selection of Brees over Manning. Drew has every bit the respect that Archie drew from the other players in the league while he played, and albeit Manning was the best player on the team for a decade, he never "slept with Tiffany."
As a former Saints follower (before the realignment-Saints were my "favorite" NFC West team). I think you really need to dig deep and look at where the Saints really turned it around. Back in 86 they hired Jim Mora from the Baltimore Stars of the USFL and that man really helped bring respectability to the franchise (that had never before had a winning season). Although Mora never won a playoff game, he took the Saints there 4 times.
Along with Mora came Sam Mills, who was the steady member of the Dome Patrol. He was the leader on the field and for the 9 seasons he was with the Saints he was among the top ILBs in the game.
Eric Martin, I thought, was an excellent WR. Considering the QBs that were throwing to him: Hebert, Fourcade, Walsh, Wade Wilson (was there then?), Martin put up outstanding numbers for a so-called possession WR.
Pat Swilling, the best pass rusher in Saints history. There was a short time that Swilling, not LT or DT, was considered the best pass rushing LB in the game.
Wayne Martin a DE that frankly, as a 5-tech, I thought was absolutely fantastic Sturday against the run and could actually rush the passer.
And for some reason, the Saints, at least during the 80's and 90's, always had some crazy cool names on their team... they deserve mention just because they had some of the best names I can remember.
All-Name Team: Jumpy Geathers, Hokie Gajan, Guido Merkens, Renaldo Turnbull, Hoby Brenner, Van Jakes, Buford Jordan, Robert "Pig" Goff, Brett Maxie, Toi Cook, Dalton Hilliard, Ruben Mayes, Bobby "The Cajun Cannon" Hebert, for a team with a history that only stretches back into the mid-60's, the 80's alone had some of the most unique names.
Now, I have to admit, as a Buc-fan, I'm now pretty much a Saints-hater, but back in the days of the old NFC West, you had to root for sombody to defeat the 49ers, and I pulled for the Saints.
The reason for Brees being put on the Mt. Rushmore over Manning was because of what Brees means to the city, how he along with Payton, have helped the franchise never before dreamed of heights, and how he won us a Super Bowl.
I pay homage to the past in the Saints Gallery while honoring the Dome Patrol on Mt. Rushmore with Rickey Jackson and Morten Andersen.
Not sure if I missed it or not but Jim Finks should definitely be mentioned.
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