In my search for Saints news this morning, I came across Mike Triplett's profile of Deuce McAllister as part of the nola.com's series on the Class of 2012 inductees to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, which will be holding enshrinement activities next weekend in Natchitoches.
This news was originally announced in December of 2011, but was missed by everyone except Jeff l.b., who mentioned it in January.
Make the jump for highlights from Trip's story and more.
Triplett opens with former Saints FB Mike Karney's praise of Deuce's mental acuity...
"He's by far the smartest player I ever played with," former Saints fullback Mike Karney said. "I always tell everybody that. Everybody thinks it's going to be Drew Brees. But I tell people it's Deuce McAllister.
"His ability to understand Xs and Os and schemes and how things are supposed to run and who blocks who ... I don't know how many times after a play or a series I'd come to the sideline and ask him what went wrong or what worked, and he'd point it out exactly."
...and being a total package running back.
he said McAllister (who was listed for most of his career at 6 feet 1, 232 pounds) stood out as the best "total package" he had ever been around.
"The smartest running back I played with by far. Size, speed, awareness, the ability to make (teammates) look good," Karney said. "My rookie year, I was always in awe the day after games, watching him (on video) just squirt through the smallest hole or gap. And I was just like, 'How the hell did you get through there?' You're 6-2, 245 pounds. He was just very nifty. Could catch, ran great routes.
And here's humble Deuce, in his own words:
Still just 33 years old, McAllister admits that it's a little "odd" to be recognized as a Hall of Famer. But he said it's a "huge, huge honor."
"It speaks volumes of not only myself but my teammates as well," McAllister said. "That's what you play for. To win games, to set records, to be included with great athletes in Hall of Fames. But I know it will be a surreal feeling if they get to showing videos and talking about records and statistics. Because I think about all those guys, the linemen, my fullbacks. The Terrelle Smiths, Mike Karneys, Moran Norrises."
His pro career, in a nutshell...
McAllister, who grew up as a Saints fan outside of Jackson, Miss., was a star tailback at Ole Miss whom many projected as a top-10 draft pick in 2001. The Saints were ecstatic when he fell to them with the 23rd pick, even though they already had talented tailback Ricky Williams on the roster.
A year later, the Saints traded Williams and made McAllister the centerpiece of their offense. He ran for more than 4,000 yards the next three seasons, making the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2003.
His career hit a roadblock in 2005 when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Then after bouncing back with his fourth 1,000-yard season in 2006, he tore his left ACL in 2007. He played one more year as a backup in 2008 before calling it a career.
...and his playoff highlights:
He was the driving force behind their playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2006 season, with an unforgettable 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns that sent the Saints to their first NFC championship game. And he was a respected team leader, as well as a mentor to fellow tailbacks like Bush and Pierre Thomas.
The Saints even used an open roster spot to re-sign McAllister during the 2009-10 playoffs to address the team and lead them onto the field. He received a Super Bowl ring with the rest of his teammates.
Triplett dug into the archives for a Loomis quote from April 2011, the 10th anniversary of his selection by the Saints in the draft.
"Deuce McAllister was a special guy," Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said at the time. "I don't know how you rank players on your all-time list of most important players, but clearly he's in the top two or three of all time. And look, I'm biased because I was a part of the group that drafted him ... but he's exactly what you draw up when you picture someone to represent your organization."
Man, do I miss Deuce. I wonder what he's up to now?
McAllister dabbles in a little bit of everything now, including unofficial roles with the Saints and Ole Miss and some broadcasting work. His primary job is with Waste Pro, where he helps with both marketing and community outreach programs.
* * *
McAllister will be joined by seven others in the LSHOF Class of 2012:
Five football standouts, led by star NFL running backs Deuce McAllister of the New Orleans Saints and Baton Rouge native Warrick Dunn, are among the eight 2012 inductees who will enter the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Another remarkable running back, LSU great Terry Robiskie, joins Louisiana Tech pass catching sensation Roger Carr and highly-successful former Southern head coach Pete Richardson in the five-man football component going into the Hall this summer.
Three-time Grambling basketball All-American Aaron James, a New Orleans native, joins LSU baseball stalwart Eddy Furniss and nationally-acclaimed jockey Mark Guidry, a Lafayette native, in the Hall's 2012 induction class.
Just in case you are interested and in the area, here is a story on the schedule of the Induction Weekend festivities.