ARCHIVE LIBRARY

HOW ABOUT SOME SENSATIONAL SAINTS TO ENJOY?

by Doug Ireland

News about the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s 2024 Induction Celebration dates set for June 20-22 almost immediately brought discussion of the greatest Saint of all, Drew Brees.

The superstar quarterback is the focal figure in the Class of 2024. Since he retired at the end of the 2021 season, walking out of the Superdome after a playoff loss to Tampa Bay, the inquiries started: when is Drew going in the Hall of Fame?

There’s a three-year waiting period after retirement for the LSHOF. That time will expire in the year of our Lord 2024.

Of course, he was an easy choice for the 40-person Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s selection committee, elected by acclamation. No need to discuss his merit, not with another 150 candidates to consider that August afternoon.

He’s preceded by some former teammates among the 22 Saints figures enshrined in the Hall. There are 19 players, one coach (Jim Mora, inducted in 2003), one general manager (Jim Finks, 2000) and one owner (Tom Benson, 2014).

Brees recorded video tributes to 2022 LSHOF inductee Jahri Evans, the great guard who protected him from 2006-16; and for his favorite target, 2021 inductee Marques Colston, who earned a spot on the Saints roster like Evans, in the same year Brees arrived (2006), and starred at receiver for the next 10 years.

He handed off and passed to Deuce McAlister from 2006-08, and saluted him when the Ole Miss native and current Saints radio color analyst was inducted in 2012. Steve Gleason, who blocked the punt that ignited the win over Atlanta in the 2006 return to the Superdome after Katrina, was elected for his incredible impact for ALS patients as a Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award winner in 2018, and Brees was there on video honoring Gleason upon his induction.

Rickey Jackson became the first of the Dome Patrol linebackers corps to enter the LSHOF in 1999, and was elected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

His cohorts on that fabled Saints foursome: Pat Swilling (inducted 2007), Sam Mills (2001) and Vaughan Johnson (2011). Also in the Class of 2011: running back Buford Jordan.

Willie Roaf, elected to the Pro Football Hall three years later, went into the state shrine in 2009.

No doubt at some point sooner than later, his coach in New Orleans, Sean Payton, will join him in the Hall in Natchitoches. But for now, the only other direct tie is Benson, who was in charge when Brees arrived.

More Saints teammates will also join the elite club in years to come.

The Fleur de Lis gang in the LSHOF also includes the dynamic passing tandem of Danny Abramowicz (inducted in 1992) and Archie Manning (the first purely Saints inductee, in 1988).

There’s the Great Dane, Morten Andersen, inducted in 2011. He kicked AGAINST Brees and the Saints for the hated Dirty Birds, the Atlanta Falcons, concluding his 25-year career with two seasons in ATL (2006-07).

The Cajun Cannon, quarterback Bobby Hebert, was a cornerstone of the LSHOF Class of 2000. The running back he handed and threw to, Dalton Hilliard, went in with the 1997 class. His favorite receiver, Eric Martin, was in the Class of 2007.

Then there are three LSHOF members who played briefly for the Saints but were inducted on the strength of their impact elsewhere: quarterbacks Jake Delhomme (2015) and Tommy Hodson (2013), and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jimmy Taylor (1974).

We can’t officially count, but can never discount, the man responsible for the Saints coming to New Orleans, and for the Superdome’s concept and construction – the amazing New Orleans icon, Dave Dixon.

That’s quite a New Orleans chapter in Natchitoches. Perhaps a few will return next June.

 

 

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