I had some fun reminiscing on another post some of my memories of the old days with the Saints. I don't know how much of my memories are real and how many or just the way I remember them. However, I thought it would be fun to remember some of the old days and talk about them. Two people in particular I want to talk about are Hap and Buddy D. One of my regrets in life is that Buddy and Hap never got to see the Saints win that Super Bowl. Being a good Catholic, I hope they got enough time out of Purgatory to see the game. But not many of you may remember this, but it was Hap and Dave Dixon that got the NFL to give New Orleans a franchise. No one other than those two thought it would work.
Hap used his column in the Times-Picayune-States-Item to crusade for a team and for the State to build them a new state-of-the-art stadium. He also used his platforms of CBS television and WWL radio. He was tireless in his efforts, he had editorial comment after editorial comment. It was Hap that steered Dave Dixon to John Mecom Jr. for the Saints to get an owner. Unfortunately, he was the worst owner in NFL history. That being said, we would have never gotten the Saints without him.
He started out making so many mistakes. A rookie coach in Tom Fears, because he was a fan of his when he was a player. He forces Fears to pick Paul Hornung in the expansion draft even though they know he is finished, because the Packers left him unprotected. They sign Jim Taylor after he played out his option with the Pack, again the Pack knew he had nothing left in the tank. I think he had like 400 yards rushing in his only season as a Saint. I remember he split time at fullback with Ernie Wheelwright.
Our two best players that first year where on defense, Big Doug Atkins and Davy Whitsell. Whitsell had 10 interceptions, if I remember right. Danny Abramovicz, who was a 17th round draft pick, they went 17 rounds in those days for you younger guys was big offensive player. He caught 50 passes that first year. Remember Gary Cuoso, who we traded a no. 1 pick for, spent more time on his back, then throwing passes. They had to go to Billy Kilmer, because he could at least avoid the rush.
I remember John Gilliam's touchdown on the first play. I was selling sodas in the upper deck at the time. i couldn't afford tickets, so I got there at five in the morning on game day to be in the front of the line to sell sodas. I was 17. I had to buy the first tray of drinks at half price and then sell those and go buy another tray. I think they were 50 cents a drink. A tray of 24, I think cost $6, which was about half what I made on my paper route, but I could sell like ten trays of drink for a game, which brought in about $55, I would buy those terrible dollar dogs during the game. They were some nasty. That was more money, then I could make from both my paper routes. You got to watch the fourth quarter from the stands, because they stopped selling trays after the third quarter. Boy that was so much fun. They next year, I got my brother, who was just old enough at 12 to buy a tray, started selling sodas. At 18, I graduated to the big money....beer. Too bad, I went into the service on All-Saints Day 1968. I had to do something with my life.
I managed to get back in 1972 and I had the money by then to get season tickets for me and my two brothers. I got a degree in Electrical Engineer from LSUNO in 1974. I had gotten all my prereqs done while in the Air Force, by taking college courses every semester. So only needed two full years, that included summers to get my degree. I started working for Martin Marietta until the 1994 layoffs. That's when moved to North Carolina to get my teaching certificate, but through all of it I never left the Saints.
I followed the Saints in Viet Nam and the Philippines and even Gila Bend, New Mexico, which was worse that South Viet Nam. You know they had to ship our water in by water tanker, it was miserable. But I digress.
I remember sitting with my Sport and Street Magazine trying to map out a draft. I got so crazy in the 80's I designed a computer program that digested all the different rating services and quantified them with a score of 1 to 40 and then taking the average of about 14 different magazines, newspapers and rating services. I would get a white and green printout of about 450 to 500 names of every player and rated in order. It was nuts. I started doing it on punch cards and staying late at work running batch files. My bosses thought I just didn't want to go home to the wife and kids. They had no idea, I was running draft ratings.
I was so happy when I got my Apple. I got one of the first, it came in a wooden box and run off a cassette tape machine and it 4K of memory. When I 16K with my Apple II, I was wondering what I could do with all that memory. I remember having to wait to compile my data in batches. But then came the draft junkie miracle...the spreadsheet. My first spreadsheet was Visicalc. It was so great. Today, I laugh about it, but I would sit there before the spreadsheet and rewrite code over and over to get one more bit of memory out of a loop, so I get one more flag or have one more variable. My players had the bit code names, it was nuts. I was nuts, but I could always watch the Saints blow draft after draft. It was fun and my wife was so patient with me.
Remember Les Kelley, Kenny Borroughs, and all the others. There can be our reminisce, all the terrible draft picks and which was the worst. To me, it had to Russell Erxleben. Remember, he was going to be hitting the dome with his punts and kick 60 yard field goals every Sunday. He was such a bust, when he lost his kick block. In those days kickers in college were allowed to use a block to get the ball off the ground. In the Pros, you couldn't use a block. It was such a shock to Russell. Can you guys come up with worse?