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New Orleans Saints History: Saints Sign Their First Player

On this day in Saints history, January 27th, 1967, the team signed their first player in franchise history, kicker Paige Cothren.

Exactly 47 years ago and more than two months after being announced as the NFL's 16th franchise, the New Orleans Saints signed their first player: a semi-retired kicker named Paige Cothren.

Jennings Paige Cothren played running back and kicker for Ole Miss before being drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1957 as a kicker. He played three seasons for the Rams and Eagles before retiring in 1960.

But during the final week of the 1966 season, the Falcons asked him to tryout. After a good week of practice, the Falcons liked what they saw and offered him a contract for that final week of their inaugural season and all of the 1967 season. Here's where things get interesting:

Tom Fears was an assistant on Norb Hecker's first Falcons staff that year and pulled an end-around on his colleague. He told Cothren he was in line to get the Saints head coaching job and told him he wanted him to be his kicker.

"Fears told me, 'Whatever they (the Falcons) offer you, I'll give you $5,000 more," Cothren said. "That was big money in those days."

Cothren took Fears' offer, much to the dismay of Hecker.

Cothren never played a game for the Saints, however. He was eventually beat out during that first training camp by free agent Charlie Durkee, who used a special steel-toed shoe made by his iron-worker father to gain an advantage.

Cothren is now a well-published author with more than 20 books to his name, many in the Christian Fiction category. He currently resides in Mississippi where he owns a small publishing company called Swing Bridge Publications and is pastor of Tishrock Community Church.