After some backroom deals between then NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and Congressman Hale Boggs, the NFL announced that the city of New Orleans had been awarded a NFL franchise on November 1, 1966. Obviously named after the traditional tune “When The Saints Go Marching In,” the announcement was also coincidentally held on All Saint’s Day.
After a long 43 year wait, filled with paper bags and hurricanes, the New Orleans Saints have finally won the Lombardi Trophy.
In honor of this historic moment, here are the nine greatest moments in Saints history. Why nine of them ? Because that’s the Super Bowl MVP’s number, that’s why!
The inaugural game for the New Orleans Saints was perhaps most memorable for the opening play; Rookie wide receiver John Gilliam’s 94 yard kick-off return for a touchdown.
However, this was sadly overshadowed by the Saints loss to the L.A. Rams 27-13. Regardless, what a way to begin a franchise. Rumor has it that the team was jinxed by a fan who proclaimed “This is going to be the greatest football team in history!” after Gilliam’s return.
During the final two seconds against the Detroit Lions, Tom Dempsey boots a 63 yard field goal to give the Saints a 19-17 win. The kick not only won the game, but also set a NFL record. In 1998, the Broncos Jason Elam tied the record, but it has yet to be broken.
Despite losing the season opener to Joe Montana and the Niners, the Saints, under coach Jim Mora, went on to win seven in a row. However, the biggest victory of the year was a 42-0 smackdown over the Broncos.
If you don’t remember, the Broncos, led by John Elway, had represented the AFC in the two previous Super Bowls, so they were for real. On top of this being a huge victory, it was the first time that the Saints beat Denver. It was also the first time in 20 years that they scored a TD off a punt return.
Following the 1978 season, where the Saints had their best record to date with 7 wins, the team was on the road to improvement.
Dick Nolan was able to coach the team to their first non-losing season in ’79, with an 8 and 8 record. This probably had something to do with the Saints offense, which was lead by Peyton’s dad Archie, being ranked 6th in the league. While the team wasn’t able to grab a playoff spot, the team, and fans, were optimistic for the future.
While in San Diego, Drew Brees was a Pro Bowl QB. However, money, a bum shoulder, and with the Chargers drafting Philip Rivers, it was clear that his time in southern California was over.
Brees could have went to Miami, but the club went with Daunte Culpepper, because they thought Drew’s shoulder had never really healed.
In what has become one of the greatest free agent signings in NFL history, Brees inked a 6 year, $60 million deal with the Saints.
Brees has pretty much broken every Saints franchise record. He’s also set NFL records for most completions in a season (2007) and highest completion percentage in a season (2009).
Oh yeah, he also won the Saints a Super Bowl on his way to snagging the Super Bowl MVP. Meanwhile, San Diego and Miami watched the big game from home.
Off the field, Drew Brees has been working endlessly in restoring New Orleans after Katrina.
The Saints made one of the most remarkable 180’s in NFL history between the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
With the devastation of Katrina, the team was forced to play elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that the players, and fans, had a lot more on their minds instead of football.
After their 3-13 season, the 2006 Saints returned to New Orleans and finished with an impressive 10-6 record. The team landed a first round bye in the playoffs and went on to beat the Eagles at home on January 13, 2007.
With the win, the team headed to Chicago for their first ever NFC Championship. While the team wasn’t able to top the Bears, it gave the players, city, and fans a much needed boost.
Coach Jim Mora was instrumental in helping the Saints shed the infamous “Aints” moniker.
The most crucial event came when the Saints appeared in their first playoff game. Despite an embarrassing loss at home to the Vikings, this game gave the fans some hope for the future.
2. September 25, 2006
The destruction of Hurricane Katrina forced the Saints to play their 2005 home games in San Antonio and Baton Rogue.
On a Monday Night Football match-up with the Falcons, the Saints returned home to the Super Dome. With a rousing performance by Green Day and U2 to kick off the festivities, the team and fans were ready for some football.
Then the game started. As the Falcons were kicking off, the Saints blocked the kick and it took it to the house. The pumped-up team was able to best the rival Falcons 23-3.
I don’t think I’m alone by saying that this was one of the greatest and most emotional, sporting events ever.
1. February 7, 2010
After years of heartache, both on and off the field, the New Orleans Saints appeared in, and won, their first ever Super Bowl by defeating the seemingly invincible Colts.
A tremendous win not only for the team, but also for the city of New Orleans.