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New Orleans Saints
Source yatpundit.com


The Saints were founded in 1967, as an expansion team. 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. The team's first successful years were from 1987-1992, when the team made the playoffs four times and had winning records in the non-playoff seasons. In the 2000 season, the Saints defeated the then-defending Super Bowl championSt. Louis Rams for the team's firstplayoff win.

The Saints' home stadium is the Louisiana Superdome. The team has played its home games in the "dome" since 1975. However, due to damage caused byHurricane Katrina to the New Orleans area, the Saints'2005 home opener was played atGiants Stadium against theNew York Giants. The remainder of their 2005 home games were split between the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After a $185 million renovation of the historic stadium, the team returned to the Superdome for the 2006 season. The team played its 2006 home opener in front of a sold-out crowd and national television audience on September 25, 2006, defeating its NFC South rival, the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 23-3. The victory received a 2007 ESPY award for "Best Moment in Sports." New Orleans is one of five NFL teams that have yet to play in a Super Bowl. The club reached the NFC Championship Game in 2006, which they lost to the Chicago Bears 39-14. The Saints will conduct summer training camp at their practice facility in Metairie, La

The brainchild of local sports entrepreneur, David Dixon, (who also founded the Louisiana Superdome and USFL), the Saints were actually secretly born in a backroom deal brought about by Congressman Hale Boggs and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. The NFL needed congressional approval of the proposed AFL-NFL merger. To seal the deal, Rozelle arrived in New Orleans within a week, and announced on, coincidentally, All Saints' Day -- November 1, 1966 -- that the NFL officially had awarded the city of New Orleans an NFL franchise; Boggs' Congressional committee in turn quickly approved the NFL merger. The team was named for the world-famous jazz anthem, "When the Saints Go Marching In," . John W. Mecom, Jr., a young oilman from Houston, became the team's first majority stockholder. The team's colors, black and gold, symbolized both Mecom's and New Orleans' strong ties to the oil ("black gold") industry. Trumpeter Al Hirt was part owner of the team, and his rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" was made the official fight song.

That first season started with a 94 yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown by John Gilliam, but the Saints lost that game 27-13 to the Los Angeles Rams at Tulane Stadium. Their first season record was 3-11, which set an NFL record for most wins by an expansion team. However, they could not manage to 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 November 8, 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 local media personality Bernard "Buddy D" Diliberto to advise Saints supporters to wear paper bags over their heads at the team's home games; many bags rendered the club's name as the "'Aints" rather than the "Saints." The practice of wearing a bag over one's head then spread rapidly, first to fans of other poorly-performing teams within the NFL, and ultimately to those of other American team sports, and has become a firmly-established custom throughout the United States.

After the end of the 1996 season, ironically as Diliberto had suggested before Mora's resignation, 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 failure. The Saints went 6-10 in their first two seasons under Ditka (1997 and 1998). During the 1999 NFL Draft, Ditka traded all of his picks for that season, as well as the first-round and third-round picks for the following season, to the Washington Redskins in order to draft University of Texas Heisman Trophy running back Ricky Williams in the first round. Ditka and Williams had a mock wedding picture taken to commemorate the occasion. However, Ditka, most of his coaching staff, and general manager Bill Kuharich were fired at the end of the 1999 season due to the club's 3-13 record.

Jim Haslett held the post from 2000 to 2005. In his first year, he took the team to the playoffs but lost to the Minnesota Vikings a week after beating the St. Louis Rams for the team's first ever playoff win. After winning the 2000 NFL Executive of the Year Award, General Manager Randy Mueller was fired between the 2001 and 2002 seasons without explanation by Benson. 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, only the second team to do so in NFL history (the 1995 Washington Redskins did so against the to be World Champion Dallas Cowboys). In 2003 the Saints again missed the playoffs after finishing 8-8. 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 win the three straight games leading up to the season finale, 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 the Saints were eliminated despite having beaten the Rams, who finished with the same record. The Rams, Saints, and Vikings all were 8-8, with the Rams having a 7-5 conference record, Saints 6-6, and the Vikings 5-7, the Rams made the playoffs due to having the best conference record, and then they took the Vikings because of the head to head. Haslett was fired after the 2005 season, in which the Saints finished 3-13 and did not play one regular season contest in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina. On January 17, 2006, the Saints hired Sean Payton as their new head coach.

On December 17, 2006, the Saints clinched their third division title in franchise history. For the first time in Saints' history, they clinched their NFC South title on their home field. Sean Payton became the second consecutive Saints coach to win a division title in his first season. After a loss by the Dallas Cowboys to the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Day 2006, the Saints clinched a first-round playoff bye for the first time in franchise history.



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