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Countdown to New Orleans Saints Kickoff: A History of No. 57

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At 57, there can be only ONE for the Saints.

RICKEY JACKSON SAINTS

The New Orleans Saints begin their 2017 regular season 57 days from today, with a Monday night game on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. Canal Street Chronicles has been walking us through the Saints numerical history, and today we look at one of the best linebackers in NFL history.

Jim Merlo (LB, 1973-1979)

Merlo joined New Orleans as a 4th round pick in the 1973 draft, and started 9 games as a rookie. He never missed a game over his six year Saints career, and was known for his playmaking abilities. Merlo led the NFL in 1978 with 5 fumble recoveries, and his 142 yards off 4 interceptions in 1976 also topped the league. Over his career, Merlo scored 3 defensive touchdowns, intercepted 8 passes, and recovered 22 fumbles.

Rickey Jackson (LB, 1981-1993)

Amazingly, Jackson was still available in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft when first-year Saints head coach Bum Phillips snatched him up with the 51st overall selection. Thirteen years later, Jackson ended a New Orleans career that would have him recognized as perhaps the greatest New Orleans Saint of all-time. He terrorized opposing offenses throughout his Saints career, with 115 quarterback sacks, 6 years of double digit sack totals, an incredible 38 fumbles forced, 27 fumbles recovered, 7 interceptions, and a safety.

Jackson was selected to six pro bowls, and recognized as a first-team NFL All-Pro 4 times. Jackson started an astounding 195 games for New Orleans, missing only two games in 1989 over his entire career, after a car accident. He returned that season with a broken jaw wired partially shut, and a specially designed helmet to protect against further injury.

RICKEY JACKSON SAINTS

Jackson was defined by far more than just statistics and the numerous team and league records he achieved. He was the centerpiece of the fearsome "Dome Patrol" linebacking unit that caused havoc throughout the NFL for nearly a decade. Jackson sadly left New Orleans after the 1993 season to play his final two years with the San Francisco 49ers, winning the championship that had for so long alluded him in New Orleans when the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIX.

Jackson was a unanimous selection for the Saints 45th Anniversary team, and was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2010, Jackson became the first predominant New Orleans Saints player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

David Hawthorne (LB, 2012-2015)

Hawthorne signed a lucrative free agent contract with the Saints in 2012 after spending his first four years with Seattle. He did start 37 games in his first 3 seasons with the Saints, but never was quite the coverage linebacker that the team hoped it was getting when they signed him. He did have 6 sacks between 2013-14, but only one interception in his four seasons in New Orleans. The team released Hawthorne after the 2015 season.

Alex Okafor will wear number 57 in his first year with the New Orleans Saints entering this summer. A four-year pro, Okafor was signed as a free agent away from the Arizona Cardinals. He showed potential as an effective pass rusher early on, with 8 sacks in his 2nd professional season and 13.5 sacks total as he comes to New Orleans. Okafor hopes to be the effective edge rusher that the Saints have so desperately needed as they enter 2017.

Other Saints players to wear No. 57: Mike Morgan (1969-70), Larry Coombs (1980), Curtis Holden (2001), Colby Bockwoldt (2004-05), Jason Kyle (2009-10), Chris McCain (2016), Jason Trusnik (2016)

Poll

Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 57?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Jim Merlo
    (7 votes)
  • 96%
    Rickey Jackson (duh)
    (254 votes)
  • 0%
    David Hawthorne
    (2 votes)
263 votes total Vote Now