I welcome you to a new CSC ongoing series of posts, "On This Date in Saints History..."
The staff of Canal Street Chronicles is introducing this feature to inform its readers of important dates and events in the history of the franchise, while hopefully also engaging you in discussion of legacy, memories, and what it all means to you.
Our first installment deals with an event that happened 34 years ago, and we'll start with the brief blurb about it from the Key Moments in Saints History section of the official team site:
June 11, 1978 - QB Archie Manning won the NFL's Byron (Whizzer) White Award for his contributions to team, community & country;
Make the jump for more...
On this date in 1978, New Orleans Saints QB Archie Manning became the 12th winner of the Byron "Whizzer" White Award, which is awarded annually by the NFL Players Association...
...to the player who serves his team, community and country in the spirit of Byron Raymond "Whizzer" White. The late Supreme Court Justice was a scholar, athlete, patriot, humanitarian and public servant - the personification of the ideal to which professional football players aspire.
(Source: article on NFLPA's official site - nflplayers.com)
This was a big deal because it was one of the few accolades earned by members of the team in the franchise's first 11 years of ineptitude. During that time, the Saints lost a lot of games and Saints players received only 4 All-Pro spots and 7 Pro Bowl invitations.
Manning received the award for his on- and off-field work in the 1977 season (following the shoulder sabbatical he took in 1976). I've literally got nothing on the specific reasons he won the award, but I do know he played in only 10 games and put up lackluster stats (113 of 205 for 1284 yards with 8 TDs and 9 INTs) as the team was a "run first, second, and third" offense. They averaged 144 rushing yards per game with the dual-threat running back combo of Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath leading the way, and TE Henry Childs also emerged as a potent weapon that year.
It was Head Coach Hank Stram's second and final year with the team, and while he came in highly touted (he won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs!) to excite the fan base and sell tickets for the newly-opened Louisiana Superdome, he only notched a 7-21 overall record. But he did put together some of the pieces for an offense (see above) that would carry the team to new heights of franchise success in 1978 and 1979. The 1979 season was profiled by Ralph Malbrough and myself in this epic Who Dat History piece from 2011.
I'll also take this opportunity to drop in a link to the NFL films video "Six Days to Sunday", featuring DEEP access to Stram's Saints as they prepared to play the Green Bay Packers in 1976. I highly recommend you take the time to watch this.
As a footnote to this story, Drew Brees happens to be the most recent winner of this award, and the Saints are the only team to have two different quarterbacks win it.
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On this date in 1978, I was seven years old and aware of Archie as the decent quarterback of our sad sack football team (I had no clue they were about to be kind of "not bad" for a couple of years), and did not even know he won the award at the time.
I now welcome you to comment on your memories of Archie and the Saints from that era, your take on this award, the article itself, or whatever else is on your mind!