The Minnesota Vikings will host the New Orleans Saints on Monday night football on Sept. 11, just 81 days from today. Canal Street Chronicles continues our countdown to kickoff, with a look at the Saints players that have worn the No. 81 throughout their 51-yr. history.
Some player information courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
Doug Atkins (1967-1969)
Atkins was most known for being an unstoppable defensive end for the Chicago Bears for 12 seasons. He joined the Saints in their inaugural season of 1967, and there played out the final three years of his career. A 6'8 monster that was a former high jump champion, Atkins is considered one of the most dominant defenders in NFL history. Sacks were not a tracked statistic until 1982, thirteen seasons after Atkins' retirement. Despite this, Atkins is still considered firmly in the top 10 of the most dominant pass rushers of all time. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982, Atkins was also inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1995. He is only one of 2 Saints to have his number retired (Jim Taylor's No. 31 is the other), although the Saints began using the number 81 again in 1993. Sadly, Atkins passed away in 2015 at the age of 85.
Michael Haynes (WR, 1994-1996)
Haynes was a Louisiana native who played his first six seasons with the rival Atlanta Falcons as their 7th round draft choice in 1988. Adding salt into the wounds of his hometown team, Haynes caught 6 passes for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a crippling 61-yd. score with less than three minutes remaining to defeat the Saints 27-20 in a 1991 playoff game. Haynes finally joined "the good guys" when he signed with the Saints prior to the 1994 season. He led the team with 985 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in his first campaign. After a dip in production in '95, he returned to his team leading ways the following year with 786 yards and 4 scores. He finished out his career back with the Falcons in 1997,
David Patten (WR, 2007-2008)
Patten forged a 12-yr. NFL career, playing for five different teams, including the Saints. His most productive years were with the Patriots, and his most memorable play was an acrobatic touchdown reception during New England's victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Patten joined the Saints in 2007, where he would play the final two seasons of his career. In '07 he would be second on the team with 792 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. He left the Saints following the 2008 season, but his tutelage and veteran leadership helped mold a young receiving corps of Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, and Robert Meachem into future super bowl champions.
Other Saints that have worn No. 81: Jesse Anderson (1993), Randal Hill (1997), Scott Slutzker (1998), Lawrence Dawsey (1999), Lamont Hall (2000-02), Zachary Hilton (2003), Az-Zahir Hakim (2005), Michael Higgins (2011-12), Jordan Williams-Lambert (2016-present)
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 81?
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