Slowly but surely, the days are inching closer to the kickoff of the New Orleans Saints 2017 season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Ninety-four days remain until we get to see if the Saints can reverse the frustration of three straight 7-9 records to end the regular season. Canal Street Chronicles continues our look back through history with some of the players that have worn the number 94.
Some player information courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
Jim Wilks (DE, 1981-1993)
Jim Wilks was drafted by the Saints in 1981 in a round that no longer even exists. Wilks was selected from San Diego State in the 12th round by a Saints team coming off an an infamous 1-15 finish the year before. Wilks went on to have a storied 13-year career that also saw a franchise rise from the ashes to become a relevant contender for the first time in it's history. He was an iron man as well, not missing a regular season contest from 1981-91, excluding 3 replacement games in the strike-shortened '87 season. Wilks was a key member of a New Orleans defense that was considered among the best in the NFL during that time. He managed 45.5 sacks over his career, and was voted a member of the Saints 45th Anniversary team, playing every season of his career as a Saint. Wilks was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 2001.
Joe Johnson (DE, 1994-2001)
The Saints followed one terrific 94 arguably with another at least as good, when they selected Johnson with the 13th pick in the 1st round of the 1994 draft. The Louisville product would go on to be a dominant defender over his 7-year career as a Saint. Johnson had 50.5 sacks as a Saint, was voted to 2 Pro Bowls, including All-Pro and Comeback Player of the Year in 2000 after missing the '99 season with injury. He helped spearhead a defense that helped New Orleans go from a "worst to first" season with a division title in 2000. He forced 13 fumbles, and added 7 recoveries along with a touchdown as well. Johnson went on to play his final two seasons in Green Bay, but is known as one of the better defenders in Saints history. He was a unanimous selection to the team's 45th Anniversary team, and inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 2007.
Charles Grant (DE, 2002-2009)
New Orleans made Grant the 25th overall selection from Georgia in the 2002 draft in hopes that he would add to the lineage of Johnson and Wilks before him. Initial results were encouraging, as Grant had a fumble return for a touchdown his rookie year, and tallied 27.5 sacks over his first 3 seasons. His production leveled off after that, evidenced by only 19.5 sacks over the next five years. Unfortunately, Grant also struggled with some legal problems over the last part of his career, along with an NFL suspension for performance enhancers, and a injury problems. He did start all 16 contests in New Orleans' Super Bowl championship season in 2009, contributing 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble along the way. A torn triceps suffered prior to the playoffs ended his season, and his NFL career, as it would turn out. New Orleans released Grant that offseason, and workouts with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears did not work Grant back into the league.
Cameron Jordan (DE, 2011-present)
The Saints struck gold with another defensive lineman that would go on to wear No. 94 when they drafted Jordan with the 24th pick of the 1st round in the 2011 draft. The University of California product and son of former Viking tight end Steve Jordan has been a fan favorite going into his seventh season. He has emerged as a vocal team leader and is one of the most underrated all-around defensive ends in all of pro football. Cam is also Mr. Dependable, playing in all of his team's 96 games and starting in all but one. Double-digit sack seasons of 12.5 in 2013 and 10 in 2015 earned him Pro Bowl berths, and his 46.5 QB takedowns are vaulting him up the list of franchise greats. The Saints are rebuilding a young defense around this 27-year-old star who just now is entering his prime.
Other Saints players to wear No. 94: K.C. Asiodu (2010), Kawika Mitchell (2010)
The New Orleans Saints have been extremely lucky with the number 94, considering that 35 out of the last 36 years they have lined up a Pro Bowl caliber player under that jersey number. Wilks and Johnson are already in the team's hall of fame, with Jordan sure to follow after his playing career is finished, and Grant himself has been mentioned as a possible inductee.
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 94?
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