Happy Who Dat Holiday! I hope that everyone gets the most out of their Thanksgiving!
Today is a time that families get together and eat, while watching football and taking strolls down memory lane. Growing up in New Orleans for 12 years, every holiday presented an opportunity to witness the back and forth of the old heads about everything under the sun! My dad is a lifelong Saints fan, so my first encounters with football were black and gold related.
Thanksgiving was a day when I would get to see my dad give his opinion of which non-Saints player was this or that. He talked a lot about the game as well, such as why certain plays were run in certain situations. This was my first exposure to the details of football. What impressed me most was how he dissected a player's game and could make it clear about why he was great. Reminiscing about those times made me think about some of the great players we've seen together.
By now, you all know that the players who have had the biggest impact on me are the defensive backs. In my first season of organized ball, I played left halfback (old wishbone backfield) and left cornerback. At the time, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Bo Jackson, Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, Eric Dickerson, and Herschel Walker were the guys to pretend you were when you got the ball.
But on defense, I was Prime-Time, Neon Deion Sanders! The three most impossible numbers to get in my day were #21, #22 (I moved to central Texas in 1990, Cowboys country), and #20, so I grabbed #25, The Rocket. I returned kicks, so it was a good fit, my speed didn't hurt either. Anyway, I studied Deion like a book, anytime he was on TV, I watched intently for the brief moments that the camera captured his backpedal and subsequent shut down of the opponent's primary receiver. The greatest moments were the interceptions! Watching as he looked beat then miraculously closed on the ball and snatched it from the receivers' awaiting hands. Then came the top speed return and the high-step to pay dirt...a CB's wet dream I tell ya! But Deion wasn't the only CB on the planet, there some other guys who did their thing in the No Fly Zone, even a couple Saints players.
I remember quite a few notable CBs from back then including Darrell Greene, Rod Woodson, Aeneas Williams, Eric Allen, and even Saints player Toi Cook.
Now you'll look at my list of players and try to figure out why Cook makes the list. Well it's simple, he's a player who spent seven seasons with the Saints and was pretty decent as I recall it. My affection may be because he was a CB at a time when I zoned in on the guys who played the same position as me. But looking over his stats, Cook had one awesome season in 1992 where he picked off six passes and took one back for a TD. Unfortunately, he never managed more than 2 INTs in any other season. Cook also endured some nights where he was roasted by opposing receivers, but as a CB playing for the Saints, he had the dream job in my opinion. Luck shined on Cook before his career ended and he was able to get a Super Bowl ring with the hated San Francisco 49ers. I don't hold that against him, he'd paid his dues...
Fans approach their fandom in different ways; mine has a heavy dose of homer-ism! I love my Saints players so Toi Cook and Robert Massey are two of the most memorable for me. They have a place in my heart next to Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, Jabari Greer, Fred Thomas, and most certainly Tracy Porter. These guys have branded themselves into my memory, with moments I'll share with my kids such as TP taking it to the house in the Super Bowl, Thomas playing with his hand in a cast, Harper getting walked down by Sam Bradford, and MJ straight pick-pocketing Roy Williams against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
For those keeping score at home, this is how my mind works. I start at one place and end up elsewhere, just that quick - Zero to 100! Share your favorite Throwback Saints player in the comments.
Well, Happy Thanksgiving CSC Fam and Be Cool Who Dats!
P.S. My favorite all time Saint is Marques Colston ~Quiet Storm~