New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints needed 21 seasons to finish a season with more victories than defeats and 34 seasons until the first playoff win. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina drove them away from their hometown, the definitive relocation seemed inevitable. But the Saints came back, gave the city new hope and were rewarded with the Super Bowl title in 2009.
The decision of the NFL to found their 16th team in New Orleans was born on November 1, 1966, at All Saints. And so no one was surprised when majority owner John W. Mecom Jr. announced that the new team will be known as “New Orleans Saints” nearly a month later, especially since the secret anthem of “Big Easy” has the title of “When the Saints go marching”.
The franchise was very successful in New Orleans from the beginning: On the first day 20,000 tickets were sold. This was mainly because the Saints were able to sign three players that were later elected into the Hall of Fame: Defensive end Doug Atkins from the Chicago Bears, fullback Jim Taylor and running back Paul Hornung came from the Green Bay Packers. The latter, however, declared his resignation shortly afterwards and did not play a single down for the Saints.
The start of the Saints in the NFL was spectacular: In the first championship game, wide receiver John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. And more spectacular moves followed with in the following years: 1970, for example, Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal – a record which still exists today. The number of spectators was also spectacular: In their first season the average attendance was 75’463 visitors.
With quarterback Archie Manning – father of the Super Bowl champions Peyton and Eli Manning -, running back George Rogers, linebacker Rickey Jackson or wide receiver Eric Martin the Saints always had exceptional players, but the success did not follow. It took 21 years before the Saints – at times derided as “Aint’s” – finished their first season with more wins than losses.and reached the playoffs. And it took 34 years and five attempts before the Saints were able to win a playoff game.
Between 1987 and 1992, under head coach Jim Mora, the Saints reached the playoffs four times in six years. This success was possible because the new Saints Owner Tom Benson who acquired the majority share of Mecom in 1985 signed General Manager Jim Finks. Finks used skillful transfers and good Drafts to turn the Saints from a losing team into playoff candidate.
However, when Fink died in 1994, the momentum was lost. The Saints were able to win their first playoff game in 2000 under head coach Jim Haslett, but the success went away quickly. And when the Saints had to leave their hometown after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and play in San Antonio and Baton Rouge, the relocation of the team from “Big Easy” was almost certain. But a year later the Saints successfully returned to the southern metropolis with a new head coach, Sean Payton, and a new quarterback, Drew Brees: They marched through the playoffs and only lost in the NFC championship game against the Chicago Bears. Three years later they even managed the unthinkable: The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl and all the fans following the New Orleans Saints live stream were overjoyed.