We continue with the next matchup in our "Most Hated Person in Saints History" tournament.
For those who haven't been following along,we've got a full 64-person bracket packed with all the ghosts from Saints past that you love to hate. We're going matchup by matchup, choosing the more hated Saints figure each time, until we've finally crowned a winner as the most hated person in Saints history.
The full tournament can be found directly below. Our next matchup today is between the No. 31 ranked Rick Middleton vs. No. 34 ranked Mike Ditka.
Your decision can be based on anything you'd like, whether it's on the field performance, off the field antics, or anything in between. I highly encourage those veteran fans to share there memories of some of the older persons in question and make their arguments for or against. Younger members may want to wait and read what the veterans have to say before placing their vote.
To help you make your decision here's a little more info on today's contestants, courtesy of BewareofDog:
Rick Middleton (LB 1974-1975) - Okay, let's get this over quick so we can get to Ditka. Rick Middleton is yet another nondescript player that no one remembers, let alone hates. He was a first round draft pick by the Saints in 1974 (13th overall pick) and another complete bust from the Mecom era. Tackles and Sacks weren't official NFL stats back when he played, so you won't find much statistical info on him outside of his 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 kick returns for 18 yards. What I remember about Middleton personally, is him getting shook outta his cleats by Larry Brown of the Redskins and getting bulldozed by Cullen Bryant of the Rams. There were plenty others, but it's all a faded blur. After two seasons with the Saints, he spent three more years with the Chargers and then he was done in the NFL.
Mike Ditka (HC 1997-1999) - The Overrated Meathead. Yeah, that's what Ditka is to me. He is without a doubt, The Single Worst Hire of the Tom Benson Era and the Worst Head Coach in Saints History. Yes, I know. There were some bad coaches during the Mecom era. A couple of them, should never have been coaching in the NFL. But, given the modern era that Ditka coached and what was available for him to work with, he was a complete disaster compared to those coaches from an earlier era with limited resources and authority. How bad was Ditka? Oh, please, let me count the ways. Mike Ditka is the only coach hired by Tom Benson who did NOT have a winning season and did NOT take his team to the playoffs. He is the only coach in Saints history to have 3 consecutive seasons with 10+ losses. That's right, no other coach in Saints history, not even the worst coaches of the Mecom era ever did that.
And I STILL haven't gotten to the Ricky Williams trade yet! His first two drafts in 1997 and 1998 only produced two players who made it to 5 seasons with the team - Kyle Turley and Chris Naeole. The QB carousel he paraded through the Dome after dumping Jim Everett and saying that Everett "could never play for him" was ridiculous. Heath Shuler, Kerry Collins, Danny Wuerffel, and of course, The Two Billy Joes. And this doesn't even include Doug Nussmeier and Jake Delhomme who each were under center and started games for the Saints during this period.
And I STILL haven't gotten to the Ricky Williams trade yet!
How did this guy ever win a Super Bowl with the Bears??? Oh, now I remember. Jim Finks was the G.M. who built the team before leaving to take over the Chicago Cubs and Buddy Ryan's defense was the backbone and most important part of that team. Without Ryan's defense, there is no Legendary '85 Bears that everyone keeps talking about to this day. And um, WHY did Jim Finks abruptly leave the team he built to go into baseball? Because the owner, George Halas, hired Ditka as Head Coach without consulting him. Finks didn't even want Ditka! And felt so strongly about it that he quit his job!
There's more. Oh, God, there's more. But, you know what? My blood pressure is up. I can't take anymore. Oh, but I just gotta drop one more on y'all before I go. There's been a lot of the back and forth between Saints fans and Falcons fans the past few days over Rafael Bush, so this is a perfect segue to another Mike Ditka monumental failing. Brace yourselves. Mike Ditka is the only Head Coach hired by Tom Benson to NEVER beat the Falcons. He is only the second Head Coach in Saints history to never beat the Falcons behind JD Roberts 1970-1972 (not including interim coaches). But, JD Roberts only lost to the Falcons 4 times. He took over at midseason in 1970 for Tom Fears and the Saints had already lost to the Falcons both times that season under Fears. This makes Mike Ditka the ONLY Head Coach in Saints history to be swept by the Falcons 3 seasons in a row.
AND I STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN TO THE RICKY WILLIAMS TRADE YET!!!
Voting will be open for exactly 48 hours from the time of publish. Voting results and brackets will be updated as we go along.