It’s our last entry for the Top 50 series that focuses on the greatest New Orleans Saints of All-Time from the past 50 years. Naturally, coming up with this list wasn’t easy. Many factors were considered while putting things together, and we’re finally at the end. The Top 5 may arguably be the easiest group to pick, but let’s not forget about the players before them.
50. Tracy Porter
49. Scott Fujita
48. John Carney
47. Dave Whitsell
46. Tommy Barnhardt
45. Tyrone Hughes
44. Thomas Morstead
43. Michael Lewis
42. Tom Dempsey
41. Joe Johnson
40. Fred McAfee
39. John Hill
38. Reggie Bush
37. Frank Warren
36. Jonathan Vilma
35. Derland Moore
34. Jim Wilks
33. Aaron Brooks
32. Jim Dombrowski
31. Will Smith
30. Sammy Knight
29. Hoby Brenner
28. Stan Brock
27. Jahri Evans
26. Dave Waymer
25. La’Roi Glover
24. Tom Myers
23. Wayne Martin
22. Steve Gleason
21. Jimmy Graham
20. Bobby Hebert
19. Henry Childs
18. Tony Galbreath
17. Chuck Muncie
16. Pierre Thomas
15. Danny Abramowicz
14. George Rogers
13. Eric Martin
12. Dalton Hilliard
11. Vaughan Johnson
10. Joe Horn
9. Pat Swilling
8. Deuce McAllister
7. Marques Colston
6. Sam Mills
5. Morten Andersen (1982-1994)
Morten Andersen is the Saints all-time leading scorer, accounting for 1,318 of the team's point in 196 games. When you average that out, it's nearly 7 points per game. Whether you refer to him as 'Mr. Automatic' or 'The Great Dane', Andersen was instrumental in putting points on the board for the Saints.
Andersen was a six-time Pro Bowler with the club. In 1991, he booted the second longest field goal in NFL History (60 yards). Here’s a summary of some of his accomplishments from his career:
- 6x All-Pro (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1995)
- NFL 1980′s All-Decade Team
- NFL 1990′s All-Decade Team
- Hall of Fames: New Orleans Saints, Louisiana Sports, Greater New Orleans, Michigan State Athletics
- 79.7% Career Accuracy (565/709) – Most Field Goals Made & Attempted
- 2,544 Career Points Scored
In 2009, Andersen was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame. He was also one of four players to be named to the team's Ring of Honor alongside Willie Roaf, Archie Manning, and Rickey Jackson. He's been flirting hard with the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the past several years, and should eventually get in.
4. Willie Roaf (1993-2001)
Willie Roaf, or 'Nasty', is the New Orleans Saints’ best offensive lineman in franchise history, and arguably one of the best in pro football history. As the team's 8th overall pick in the 1993 draft, Roaf went on to play in 131 of 144 games for the Saints. Roaf was instrumental in both pass and run-blocking, and made the Pro Bowl eleven times in his career, seven of which came with the Saints from 1994-2000.
For the Saints, Roaf was also a first-team All-Pro from 1994-1996, second-team All-Pro in 1997 and 2000, and was part of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and 2000s All-Decade Team. Things didn't necessarily end well for Roaf and the Saints, as a season-ending knee injury sidelined him in 2001, and ongoing discrepancy with head coach Jim Haslett led to Roaf's departure. However, Roaf left a lasting mark on the team's offensive line, and will always be in the conversation as the top offensive lineman for the black and gold.
Roaf was selected to the Louisiana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003, Saints Hall of Fame in 2008, and eventually got his due by being selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
3. Archie Manning (1971-1982)
If there's going to be any type of Top 5 All-Time Saints list, then you had better include Archie Manning. Back in the day, Archie Manning, or 'Mr. Saint', was the face of the franchise. As the team's 2nd overall pick in the 1st Round of the 1971 draft, Manning played ten full seasons for the black and gold.
By today's NFL standards, Manning's stats were pretty bad. He was sacked some 340 times, sported a 27 percent career winning percentage with a 35-91-3 record, 21,734 passing yards, and had 115 touchdowns as opposed to 156 interceptions. However, that's not necessarily what Manning was known for.
For starters, Manning was a well-respected figure across the NFL. The Saints were atrocious, for all intents and purposes, but Manning did anything and everything he could to make something happen. Although I can't say that I've personally witnessed him playing, film shows just how much dedication he had and how interesting of a player he was to watch. He was an icon in New Orleans, and many aspiring athletes looked up to this childhood hero.
Manning was sent to two Pro Bowls in 1978 and 1979, and was also named the NFC's offensive player of the year in 1978. When the Saints first introduced their Hall of Fame in 1988, it was Manning and Abramowicz as the first two inductees. No one has worn No. 8 for the Saints since 1982, and you won't ever expect that to change. That was Archie Manning.
2. Rickey Jackson (1981-1993)
Quite simply put, Rickey Jackson is New Orleans. He's one of the very select few who've been fortunate enough to have his number retired. Jackson was the anchor of The Dome Patrol, and came out of the gate strong as a rookie after being drafted by then head coach Bum Phillips as the team's 51st pick in the 2nd Round. The 1981 feat of 125 tackles by Jackson is still the franchise rookie record to this day, and the laundry list of achievements on his resume are impressive.
- Most tackles in franchise history (1,104)
- Most sacks in franchise history (115 - there's also unofficial 8.0 sacks in 1981)
- Most forced fumbles in franchise history (38)
- Six-time Pro Bowl selection (1983-1986, 1992, 1993)
- Four-time First-team All-Pro (1986, 1987, 1992, 1993)
- Two-time Second-team All-Pro (1984, 1985)
- Tied for most sacks in one game (4)
After his long 13 seasons with the Saints where he only missed a total of two games, Jackson joined then NFC West rival San Francisco where he deservedly earned a Super Bowl ring. Jackson went into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Jackson just got the job done in any way, shape, form, or fashion that he could possibly do. He was just great at football. Period.
1. Drew Brees (2006-Present)
It's hardly a no-brainer to find Drew Brees as the greatest New Orleans Saints player of all-time. Since entering the picture in 2006, Brees has been able to shatter and earn nearly every franchise quarterback record. Brees holds well over 20 NFL records and achievements, and over 25 team records. Brees has nine Pro Bowl appearances (eight with the Saints), multiple All-Pro selections, NFC MVP honors, NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards, and the extremely impressive list goes on and on.
Brees is also the NFL's fastest to reach 40,000 and 50,000 passing yards, most 5,000 yard passing seasons (4), passing yardage leader for single season (6x), record for most consecutive games with a passing touchdown (54), and the list keeps going.
Brees needed New Orleans, and the city of New Orleans needed Brees. It's been the perfect pairing since Day One, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brees will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate, Ring of Honor and Saints Hall of Fame lock, and receive many other awards and recognition once he does eventually hang it up.