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Countdown to New Orleans Saints kickoff: A history of No. 99

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We’re down to double-digit days until the Saints open their 2017 season on the national big stage. In honor of that, we’re going the distance on a historic player countdown.

Saints v Falcons X

Sunday marks 98 days until the NFL’s opening weekend, so we’re 14 weeks away from football officially dominating our weeks and weekends again. Sure, we’re even closer to football returning with the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots set to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, Sep. 7, and preseason is right around the corner - but the reality is that we’re 99 days until the New Orleans Saints return for their 2017 campaign.

To celebrate, we’re taking a look at the past and present Saints to dawn the black and gold jerseys. Players are listed in order of AV, or approximate value, which is PFR’s attempt to attach a single number to every player-season since 1960. We won’t highlight everyone, but take a look at the notable ones using this metric.

All data is courtesy of Pro Football Reference, and can be found at the franchise encyclopedia.

Tony Elliott
New Orleans Saints

Tony Elliott (1982-1988), AV 27

On the field, Tony Elliott was a big force for the 1980s Saints. Off the field was a mostly different story. Although Elliott personally funded an annual scholarship to aspiring college-bound players, he fell victim to heavy drug abuse, forgery, eventual paralysis from a gunshot after his playing days were done, and suffered from various other medical issues. Shortly after joining the Saints as the team’s fifth-round draft choice of 1982, Elliott revealed in a July 1986 column that he blew a $30,000 signing bonus in a matter of two weeks on a cocaine binge. That’s just scratching the surface, too. Still, for the seasoned fan, it’s hard to forget about the Saints nose tackle that had his best years between 1985-1987, missing just two of 47 games.

Norman Hand (2000-2002), AV 14

Norman Hand was a key element in helping the Saints earn their first playoff victory in franchise history. Often referred to as a ‘centerpiece’ of the defensive line, Hand had 44 total appearances for the Saints (3 playoff). He racked up 99 total tackles and 9.0 sacks under Jim Haslett. Sadly, Hand’s life was cut short in 2010 at the age of 37, passing away from hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

Hollis Thomas (2006-2008), AV 10

Hollis Thomas was a big help to then first-year Sean Payton’s squad. After being cut by the Eagles, coincidentally because of Brodrick Bunkley (who’d later join the Saints), Thomas was claimed off of waivers. He’d go on to start and play in all 12 games during the 2006 regular season, but would then get suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Thomas would go the distance in 2007, and hit some bad luck in 2008 by tearing his triceps in practice.

Other players to wear No. 99: Willie Broughton (1995-1996), Pio Sagapolutele (1997), Paul Kruger (2016), Joel Smeenge (1990-1994), Aubrayo Franklin (2011), Kenderick Allen (2003), Shaun Smith (2004), Darren Mickell (1999), Greg Romeus (2012), Jimmy Wilkerson (2010)

Poll

Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 99?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Tony Elliott
    (43 votes)
  • 75%
    Norman Hand
    (263 votes)
  • 12%
    Hollis Thomas
    (44 votes)
350 votes total Vote Now