Former Saints’ Running Back, Darren Sproles
(Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com)
The New Orleans Saints play in the National Football League’s (NFL) National Football Conference (NFC) South division. They play at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans and are headquartered in Metairie, Louisiana.
Formed in 1966, despite a reasonably good first season for a rookie team, for many of the following years they underperformed and have been through a number of coaching changes. However, since the dawn of the 21st century the team have seen some turnaround of their form, which resulted in three NFC South championships, six appearances in the playoffs, and a Super Bowl where they beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the 2009 season’s Super Bowl XLIV.
Despite being hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which saw extensive damage to their stadium, the New Orleans Saints remain a popular franchise in the NFL and fans look forward to a positive future.
- Full Name: New Orleans Saints
- Conference: National Football Conference
- Division: South
- Location: New Orleans
- Stadium Name: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
- Year Established: 1966
- Owner: Tom Benson
- Head Coach: Sean Payton
- Manager: Mickey Loomis
- Nickname: The Black and Gold, The Bless You
- Mascot: Gumbo, Sir Saint
- Team Colours: Old gold, black, white
Former Saints’ Linebacker, Jonathan Vilma
(Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com)
The Saints were founded in 1966 by John W Mecom Jr, David Dixon, and the City of New Orleans. Starting in the National Football League’s Eastern division, the New Orleans Saints launched their 1967 season having sold over 50,000 season tickets. The thirst for professional football in New Orleans was thanks to the fact there had never been a franchise in the city before. Their first season started well with a 94 yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown by John Gilliam. Sadly, this was one of the few highlights of the season and it saw the Saints finished with a 3-11 record.
Sadly, for most of the next 20 years, the New Orleans Saints severely underperformed as a team and it was only the 1979 and 1983 teams that could even finish at .500. 1980 was a particularly poor season losing their first 14 games, with many people calling the team the ‘Aints’ rather than the ‘Saints’.
1987 saw the New Orleans Saints post their first ever winning record, 12-3 which gave them their first ever taste of the playoffs, a feat they would then repeat in 1991, the year in which they also won their first division title. The team at this point was being coached by Jim Mora and during his tenure between 1986-1996, the Saints made the playoffs a total of four times. His 93 wins are still a franchise record to this day.
Following Mora, the Saints were coached by former Chicago Bears coach, Mike Ditka. Although there was a huge amount of excitement about this, unfortunately, his three-year tenure was a failure, the Saints posting a dismal 2-13 record in 1999. Ditka was replaced by Jim Haslett who had initially had success, leading the Saints to the 2000 playoffs and giving them their first win against the St Louis Rams. However, throughout his remaining tenure at the Saints, Haslett was not able to keep this run of form up and he was eventually fired after the 2005 season.
The darkest day in the Saints’ history and indeed the city of New Orleans's history occurred on August 29, 2005. This was the day that Hurricane Katrina struck and devastated the city of New Orleans killing over 1400 people and wrecking large parts of the city. There was extensive damage to the Saints’ stadium and the team had to play their 2005 games split between the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Since 2006, the Saints have been coached by Sean Payton and he has brought about some much needed stability. During this tenure, it has seen the Saints reach the playoffs five times so far, won three division championships, as well as a Super Bowl in 2009, the Saints beating the Indianapolis Colts by 31-17 at Super Bowl XLIV played at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
Super Bowl Appearances
Super Bowl XLIV New Orleans Saints 31 - Indianapolis Colts 17
Super Bowl XLIV was the New Orleans Saints’ first and so far only Super Bowl appearance. Played at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida in February 2010, it saw the Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts. Played in front of a crowd of over 74,000, it was a largely close game that eventually saw the Saints come out as 31-17 winners. Completing 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, New Orleans quarterback Drew Bees was named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player.
The live broadcast on the CBS television network saw 106 million viewers watch the game which at the time made it the third most watched Super Bowl in history. Fans were treated to the National Anthem by Carrie Underwood, whilst the halftime stage show was a fantastic appearance by British rock band, The Who.
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The Mercedes-Benz Superdome was originally called the Louisiana Superdome and is where the New Orleans Saints play their home games. Located in the central business area of New Orleans, it was built in 1975 with an original capacity of 74,452, which has since reduced to 73,208, although this can be expanded to 76,468. Mercedes’ naming rights of the stadium make it the third stadium to bear the Mercedes-Benz name – the others being Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Arena and Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena.
The iconic stadium is not just known as being the home of the New Orleans Saints, the New Orleans Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, it has also played host to seven Super Bowls, NCAA basketball finals, world championship boxing, and big games from several other sports. It’s also hosted many high profile gigs including Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, and the Rolling Stones. It has also hosted Wrestlemania XXX, as well as Pope John Paul II in 1987. However, to many it will always be remembered for housing thousands of people seeking shelter from Hurricane Katrina.
Willie Roaf (1993-2001)
Nicknamed ‘Nasty’, played for the Saints between 1993 and 2001 as an offensive tackle. At 6 ft 5 and weighing in at over 320 lbs, he had considerable speed and agility for his size. A popular fan favourite, he played nine seasons for New Orleans and was named in seven Pro-Bowls.
Doug Atkins (1967-1969)
At 6 ft 8 and weighing in at over 250 lbs, Doug Atkins was a huge presence in the New Orleans defence and one who was known for using his size and surprising agility to his advantage. He only had one full season at the New Orleans Saints but it was a memorable one for those who were lucky enough to see the big man in action.
Rickey Jackson (1981-1993)
Rickey Jackson played for the New Orleans Saints between 1981 and 1993 and remains one of the most popular players ever to play for the Saints. In his 13 seasons with the Saints he only ever missed two games and that was only because he was in a car accident. Such was his dedication to the team he played the remainder of the season with a wired jaw and a special helmet.
Did You Know?
- Celebrity fans of the New Orleans Saints include Harry Connick Jr, Spike Lee, Brad Pitt, and Ellen Degeneres.
- During the 1990s, the New Orleans didn’t win one playoff game.
- Because of damage by Hurricane Katrina, the Saints had to play all of their games elsewhere during the 2005 season.
- In 1999, the Saints traded every draft pick they had plus a first and third rounder in 2000 for the rights to draft Ricky Williams from the University of Texas.
- The New Orleans Saints were the first team in NFL history to ever wear all-black uniforms when they played the Carolina Panthers in 2001.