Just 82 days remain until the New Orleans Saints begin their 2017 regular season against the Minnesota Vikings. Our countdown to kickoff at the Canal Street Chronicles commences with a look at the Saints players who have worn the number 82.
Bob Pollard (DE, 1971-1977)
New Orleans selected Pollard in the 11th round of the 1971 draft. He would prove to be a force on Saints defenses that usually struggled in the 1970's. Playing in an era before quarterback sacks were counted, Pollard showed himself to be a devastating presence in the opposition's backfield.
Many observers of the team have said that Pollard was responsible for 40-50 sacks over his years in New Orleans. He was credited with 12 fumbles recovered and a 52-yard touchdown return during his 7-year Saints career. Pollard was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals after the '77 season, where he would remain until his retirement in 1981. Pollard was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1995.
Ike Harris (WR, 1978-1981)
Harris spent the first three years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He joined the Saints in 1978, as part of the trade that sent defensive end Bob Pollard from New Orleans to the Cardinals. He would start 45 games over the next three seasons, finishing second on the team in receiving in two of those years and becoming a key component in the Saints passing attack. Harris' best season as a Saint was 1980, when he produced 692 yards on 37 receptions and tying for the team lead with 6 touchdowns. A knee injury suffered early in the 1981 season ended Harris' career at the age of only 29.
John Tice (TE, 1983-1992)
Tice was the Saints 3rd round draft choice in 1983 from the University of Maryland. Although he was only a part-time starter, and most utilized for his blocking abilities throughout his 10-yr Saints career, he still provided a good secondary threat for the New Orleans passing attack. Tice had six of his 15 receiving touchdowns in the Saints first ever winning season in 1987.
Irv Smith (TE, 1993-1997)
Smith was the Saints 1st round draft choice in 1993 (20th overall) from Notre Dame. He did score 8 touchdowns his first three seasons in the league, and started every game for the Saints in '94 and '95. Despite 796 receiving yards over his second and third seasons, Smith never developed into the pass catching threat that New Orleans had envisioned when drafting him. A drop in production and playing time in 1996 and '97 led to his departure from New Orleans. He played one year each with San Francisco and Cleveland before the end of his career in 1999.
Eddie Lee "Boo" Williams (TE, 2001-2004)
Boo Williams was an undrafted free agent brought in by New Orleans after the 2001 draft. The converted wideout provided a red zone threat for the Saints, scoring 12 touchdowns in 20 career starts, and leading all NFL tight ends with 5 scores in 2003. A badly injured knee suffered in the preseason of 2005 halted Williams' development, and effectively ended his young NFL career.
Ben Watson (TE, 2013-2015)
Watson was originally a 1st round draft choice by the New England Patriots in the 2004 draft. The former University of Georgia star joined the Saints for his 10th season in 2013 to provide veteran leadership and depth. His first two seasons in New Orleans he gave precisely that, along with showing himself to be a good mid-range target and red zone threat.
Following the trade of star tight end Jimmy Graham prior to the 2015 season, many wondered how, or if, the Saints would be able to replace Graham's high production. Watson answered that question by having the best year of his 13-year career with 74 receptions and 825 yards with 6 touchdowns. An achilles injury suffered after his free agent departure to Baltimore in 2016 may have brought Watson's fine career to an end.
Coby Fleener will be entering his second season as a Saint wearing number 82 in 2017. Fleener's New Orleans production in 2016 was not what many had hoped, following his lucrative free agent contract luring him away from the Indianapolis Colts. Still, Fleener showed glimpses of the playmaking potential that had many Saints fans excited at his signing last year.
Other Saints who have worn the No. 82: Johnny Brewer (1968-70), Ken O'neil (1987), Darren Gottschalk (1987), Qadry Ismail (1998), Eddie Kennison (1999), Andrew Glover (2000), Nate Lawrie (2006), Eric Johnson (2007)
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 82?
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