New Orleans Saints

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New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints helmet
New Orleans Saints logo
Helmet Logo
Conference NFC logo
Division South
Year Founded 1967
Home Field Due to damage caused to the Louisiana Superdome by Hurricane Katrina, games are split between:
City New Orleans, Louisiana
Team Colors Old Gold, Black, and White
Head Coach Jim Haslett
League Championships (0)
Conference Championships (0)
Division Championships (2)
NFC West: 1991, 2000

The New Orleans Saints are a National Football League team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 1967, the Saints have struggled throughout their history. Their early years were especially bleak; 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. Their greatest years of success were from 1987-1992, when they made the playoffs four times. The team experienced a brief renaissance in 2000, defeating the St. Louis Rams in dramatic fashion for the team's only playoff win.

Due to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina to the New Orleans area, the team has set up headquarters and practice fields in San Antonio, Texas. The team's home games are currently being split between the Alamodome in San Antonio and Louisiana State University's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. However, currently it is undetermined where the Saints will play in 2006 and beyond. There are persistent rumors that the team might relocate permanently to San Antonio, or even Los Angeles.

Currently, the Saints are the oldest team in the NFL never to play in either a Super Bowl or any other NFL championship game.

Founded: 1967 as an NFL expansion team
Home field (2005): Due to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, games are split between:
Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge)
Previous home field:
Tulane Stadium (1967-1974)
Louisiana Superdome (1975-)
Uniform colors: Old Gold, Black, and White
Helmet design: Gold helmet with a black fleur-de-lis


Franchise history

Main article: History of the New Orleans Saints

The NFL awarded the city of New Orleans an NFL franchise on 1 November 1966. John W. Mecom, Jr. became the majority stockholder, and the team was named the Saints on 9 January 1967, since the franchise had been granted to New Orleans on All Saints' Day. Despite a 94 yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown by John Gilliam, the Saints lost their first game 27-13 to the Los Angeles Rams. Their first season record was 3-11, and they could not manage to even 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 8 November 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 fans to design paper bags to wear over their heads to the team's home games; the bags rendered the club's name as the "'Aints" rather than the "Saints," and this practice then spread rapidly, first to fans of other poorly-performing teams within the NFL, and ultimately to those of other American team sports as well, and has become a firmly-established custom throughout the United States.

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. Although they made the playoffs four times under Mora's tenure, 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 dismal 3-13 season.

After the end of the 1996 season, legendary 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 disappointment. The Saints went 6-10 in their first two seasons under Ditka (1997 and 1998). During the 1999 NFL Draft, Ditka surprised many by trading all of his picks for that season, as well as the first-round and third-round picks for the following season, to draft star University of Texas running back Ricky Williams in the first round. Unfortunately, the bold move didn't help the Saints, as they went 3-13 in 1999. Ditka, most of his coaching staff, and general manager Bill Kuharik were fired at the end of that season.

Current coach Jim Haslett has held the post since 2000, in which year he took the team to the playoffs but lost to the Minnesota Vikings a week after besting the St. Louis Rams for the team's first ever playoff win. Many believe the success of the 2000 season was the result of first year General Manager Randy Meuller's leadership, as Haslett has struggled since inheriting the remains of Ditka's team in 2000. Mueller was fired between the 2001 and 2002 seasons without explanation by Benson, and after winning the 2000 NFL Executive of the Year Award. 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. In 2003 the Saints again missed the playoffs after finishing 8-8. Haslet's Saints teams are known for beating quality opponents and getting dismantled by teams with losing records. His teams have been accused of having a split personality that alternates between a quality game performance with few mistakes and an embarassing effort that bears little resemblance to an NFL team. 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 pull the team together and put on a four-game win streak, 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 in a thrilling overtime game the Saints were eliminated. Nevertheless, the four-game win streak to end the season left many Saints fans optimistic about the team's future prospects.

Effect of Hurricane Katrina

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans in August 2005 and caused extensive damage to the Superdome, the Saints found they would not be able to play any home games there for the entire 2005 NFL season. Although the league announced that the Saints' first home game on September 18 against the New York Giants would instead be played at Giants Stadium at 7:30 p.m. EDT on September 19, other home games will be split between Tiger Stadium at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (80 miles/130 km from New Orleans) and the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas (540 miles/869 km from New Orleans). However, a site for a potential home playoff game has yet to be announced. For the time being, the team has set up headquarters and practice fields in San Antonio.

Beyond 2005, the Saints' future is even more uncertain, and they are rumored to be the next franchise to relocate. It is undetermined when the Superdome may be available again, although speculation is that it may be available in Nov. 2006. It is also questionable if the New Orleans region's economy will be able to support the franchise. A decision should be made on the Superdome's fate and repair prognosis by the end of the year following a complete assessment of the structrual soundness of the building. On October 20, 2005, Superdome officials reported that they may be able to have the Superdome ready for at least part of the 2006 season, although no final decision has been made. After inspection of the Superdome is complete, it will be determined when the Superdome can be renovated. In any case, the answers to renovation may take time to sort out as higher priority items such as water, electricity, and the influx of people returning are a higher priority. Time will tell, in the rebuilding project, if New Orleans can continue to economically support the team in the future, as well as any projected stadium reconstruction efforts.

Various media reports in the San Antonio Express-News indicate the owner and government officials in San Antonio are working behind the scenes concerning a possible relocation to San Antonio. San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger has pushed a strong verbal campaign to pursue the Saints. Other officials, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, have indicated they would also support a relocation to San Antonio, including using funding to upgrade the Alamodome, or possibly build a new stadium. It is currently rumored that the NFL, and commisioner Paul Tagliabue, are in favor of keeping the franchise in New Orleans, or at least delaying a decision on a potential relocation.

Many fans in Louisiana were angered and felt that Hardberger and Perry were taking advantage of New Orleans' misfortunes to try to steal the Saints. Benson's actions also drew the anger of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who called Benson's actions shameful and disrespectful to New Orleans fans who have supported the team for nearly four decades of mostly losing seasons. San Antonio officials, on the other hand, counter that Benson has no choice. That he will need to relocate or the franchise would go under financially, as New Orleanse may never fully recover, and they are simply giving the franchise an option to relocate. Mr. Benson indicated in his open letter to the Gulf Coast that San Antionio officials are only doing what any city seeking a frachise would - recruit the franchise - As Mayor Nagin did for the former Charlotte Hornets. With New Orleans currently in flux, it remains to be seen if the city would ever be able to economically support the franchise

On October 21, 2005, Benson issued a statement saying that he has not made any decision about the future of the Saints. [1]. However, the San Antonio Express-News reported that sources close to the Saints' organization say that Benson does plan to void his lease agreement with New Orleans by declaring the Louisiana Superdome unusable. [2]

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue met with Benson and Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco at the Saints' first home game in Baton Rouge on October 30. After the meeting, he stopped just short of making a formal commitment to keep the Saints in New Orleans. Said Tagliabue: "The Saints are Louisiana's team and have been since the late '60s when my predecessor Pete Rozelle welcomed them to the league as New Orleans' team and Louisiana's team. Our focus continues to be on having the Saints in Louisiana." He dispelled rumors that have the Saints relocating to Los Angeles. Tagliabue will form an eight-owner advisory committee to help decide the team's future. [3]

The first Saints game in Baton Rouge was against the Miami Dolphins on October 30, 2005. Benson attempted to leave the game with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. While leaving the stadium, a WWL-TV camera crew attempted to obtain footage of him leaving the stadium, and Benson pushed the camera away. Benson then got into an argument with a fan. Video of the altercation was obtained by WWL-TV. [4]

On November 3, 2005, Benson issued a statement that he would no longer go to Baton Rouge for Saints home games because he felt he and his family were in danger from abuse at the game. [5]

As of November 4, 2005, Mr. Benson has also agreed with Louisiana state officials to extend his opt out clause with the Superdome and Louisiana, because of the disaster, until January 2007. Reports speculate this buys Benson time to see how the situation unfolds without having to make a decison now.


Year W L T Finish Playoffs
1967 3 11 0 4th Capitol --
1968 4 9 1 3rd Century --
1969 5 9 0 3rd Capitol --
1970 2 11 1 4th NFC West --
1971 4 8 2 4th NFC West --
1972 2 11 1 4th NFC West --
1973 5 9 0 3rd NFC West --
1974 5 9 0 3rd NFC West --
1975 2 12 0 4th NFC West --
1976 4 10 0 3rd NFC West --
1977 3 11 0 4th NFC West --
1978 7 9 0 3rd NFC West --
1979 8 8 0 2nd NFC West --
1980 1 15 0 4th NFC West --
1981 4 12 0 4th NFC West --
1982 4 5 0 9th NFC Conf. --
1983 8 8 0 3rd NFC West --
1984 7 9 0 3rd NFC West --
1985 5 11 0 3rd NFC West --
1986 7 9 0 4th NFC West --
1987 12 3 0 2nd NFC West Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Vikings)
1988 10 6 0 3rd NFC West --
1989 9 7 0 3rd NFC West --
1990 8 8 0 2nd NFC West Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Bears)
1991 11 5 0 1st NFC West Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Falcons)
1992 12 4 0 2nd NFC West Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Eagles)
1993 8 8 0 2nd NFC West --
1994 7 9 0 2nd NFC West --
1995 7 9 0 5th NFC West --
1996 3 13 0 5th NFC West --
1997 6 10 0 3rd NFC West --
1998 6 10 0 3rd NFC West --
1999 3 13 0 5th NFC West --
2000 10 6 0 1st NFC West Lost Divisional Playoffs (Vikings)
2001 7 9 0 3rd NFC West --
2002 9 7 0 3rd NFC South --
2003 8 8 0 2nd NFC South --
2004 8 8 0 2nd NFC South --
*2005 2 7 0 3rd NFC South --
*=Current Standing

Players of note

Current roster

New Orleans Saints
Current Roster


Special Teams

Injured Reserve

Pro Football Hall of Famers

Retired numbers

Not to be forgotten

External links

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