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New Orleans Saints Roster History: What's In A Name?

With the Saints' recent uptick in the acquisition of players with distinctive names, this author reviews the team's all-time alphabetical coaching and player roster to dig up some other gems for us to enjoy.

I'm hoping Terron's play is more fierce than his name, which is already more fierce than his baby face.
I'm hoping Terron's play is more fierce than his name, which is already more fierce than his baby face.

Last week, when the Saints picked up oft-injured defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui, Dave noted the high concentration of vowels in the Samoan's name.

And in April's draft, the team nabbed an offensive tackle with a name that sounds a bit ominous, TERRON ARMSTEAD (who had a freaky-great athletic performance at the Combine in March), as well as a RUFUS! (Johnson), a defensive end from tiny Tarleton State. FYI - this Rufus is only the second Rufus ever on the Saints all-time roster (Rufus Porter played LB from 1995-96).

All these players have been added to a roster that already includes the interestingly-named and/or fun-to-say Junior Galette, Akiem Hicks, Martez ('Tez) Wilson, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Baraka Atkins, Saalim Hakim, and Travaris Cadet, among others.

This pattern did not go unnoticed by your ever-vigilant HansDat, and with this inspiration tickling the creases of my brain, I decided to comb through the team's all-time alphabetical roster last night to uncover other compellingly characteristic, original, outstanding, or otherwise noteworthy names of players or coaches who have been a part of the Saints colorful history.

The Coaches

Jim Champion (with a name like that, how could he lose? Try being the Saints defensive coordinator from 1971-72. That'll do it, for sure.) was a former NFL linebacker and CFL head coach who was brought in by the second Saints head coach, J.D. Roberts. The revolving door almost hit him in the rear when he was pushed back through it after his squads allowed nearly 25 and then 26 points per game under his tutelage. In ppg adjusted for inflation, that'd be like giving up over 35 a game in today's NFL.(No citation, just HansDat's cold, hard humor-factiness.)

From 2003-2005, the Saints had one Ty Knott on the coaching payroll (and as long as he was with his brother, Fred, I bet he NEVER had trouble getting served in a bar), and the unfortunately-named Dick Wood patrolled the sidelines from 1976-1977 (can you imagine the jokes he suffered in his adolescence?).

The final coach I'd like to mention here is perhaps my absolute most favorite Saints coach name of all time: Zaven Yaralian. The Mike Ditka Era didn't have too many bright spots (although this post practice interview was pretty funny), but at least I greatly enjoyed saying this guy's name while he served as Iron Mike's defensive coordinator from 1997-98). Just say it a few times yourself, and let the syllabication and rhythm just roll off your tongue.

The Players

In the "playful player names of the early years" department, I offer up Happy Feller (a kicker from 1972-73), and a handful of wide receivers from the 1970s and 80s: Jubilee Dunbar, Jitter Fields, Tinker Owens, and Speedy Thomas.

One person's rhythmic bonanza of names can be particularly devastating and nightmarish for certain past and present members of the New Orleans sports radio media scene, so these guys are from my "names that would give Buddy D, Drunk Bobby, and Hokie fits" section. Here are some names that even you may not want to try to say three times fast: Ink Aleaga (LB, 1997-99), Onome Ojo (a wide receiver from 2001 who also joins the fun "all-alliterative" name group with 2009's TE Darnell Dinkins), Dino Philyaw (RB, 1999), Olaniyi Sobomehin (FB, 2008) and Pio Sagapolutele (DT, 1997).

Two names that I appreciated as cool, football-sounding names belong to Van Jakes, a cornerback from 1986-88, and Renaldo Turnbull, the defensive end/linebacker from 1990-96, who would be in the Hall of Fame if his talent was anything close to how well his name fits a pass-rushing specialist.

Closing out this nomenclature nonsense are the sweetly-named Babe Laufenberg, a backup QB on the team in 1986, and the buggy Carl Roaches, a kick returner from 1985 whose last name guaranteed that he had to play in New Orleans for at least one year.

* * *

Before I kick it to everyone in the comment section to share your thoughts on these names and any others of this same ilk you recall that I may have missed, let me toss out a couple of trivia questions that my research prodded:

1) There are four letters in the alphabet that NO PAST SAINTS PLAYERS last names begin with. Can you name them?

2) Who is the only past Saints player whose last name begins with the letter "U"? Extra credit awarded for naming his position and ballpark of his years with the team.

Please search only your brain for these answers...NO INTERNET-ASSISTED ANSWERS will be accepted.

See you in the comment section!!