The New Orleans Saints begin their 2017 regular season on the road, with a matchup against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night football. Only 55 days await until we see if New Orleans can turn around the fortunes of three straight 7-9 finishes. Canal Street Chronicles continues our countdown to kickoff, today looking back at the Saints players who have worn the number 55.
Jackie Burkett (LB, 1967, 1970)
Burkett was selected in the 1967 expansion draft by New Orleans after six seasons with the Baltimore Colts. He saw action in all 14 games for the expansion Saints, intercepting 3 passes and being one of the team's better sideline to sideline defenders. Burkett was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in Aug. 1968, where he would play for two seasons. The Cowboys traded Burkett back to New Orleans in the summer of 1970, in exchange for Pro Bowler and future Saints Hall of Fame defensive back Dave Whitsell. Burkett would play his final NFL season that year with New Orleans. He would start 10 games, intercepting 4 more passes. He was also the long snapper on kicker John Dempsey's NFL-record 63-yard field goal to defeat the Detroit Lions on the game's final play.
Rob Nairne (LB, 1981-1983)
A backup linebacker on the Denver Broncos famous "Orange Crush" defenses of the late 1970s, Nairne was acquired by the Saints in 1981. He would be a starter at outside linebacker for New Orleans in 22 of his first 27 games with them, and played in 38 of the Saints 41 games. Nairne intercepted 2 passes, and had 3 sacks on a defense that finished in the top half of the league in points allowed twice in his three years with the team.
Mark Fields (LB, 1995-2000)
Fields was the 13th overall selection in the 1st round of the 1995 draft. The former University of Washington State star did not make a major impact in his rookie year, although he did appear in all 16 games. By his second season, Fields had worked his way into the starting lineup, and would start 73 games over his next five years with New Orleans, ranking among the team's top tacklers in each season. Fields also had 34.5 sacks over his Saints career, and was a team leader in 2000, earning his first Pro Bowl bid, as the team made an improbable run to a division title.
Fields left New Orleans in 2001, signing a one year contract with the Rams, then the following season joined the Carolina Panthers. He was forced to sit out the 2003 season due to Hodgkin’s Disease, but amazingly returned with the Panthers in '04, earning another Pro Bowl berth for a team that narrowly lost Super Bowl XXXVIII. Unfortunately, the Hodgkin's returned in 2005, bringing an end to Fields' career.
Scott Fujita (LB, 2006-2009)
Fujita was the first free agent signed by then-new head coach Sean Payton in 2006. Fujita was a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in 2005, while Payton was the offensive coordinator. He became a leader on a revamped Saints defensive unit, and was the team's defensive captain in 2007. Fujita started 54 games in his four years with the Saints, intercepting 4 passes and contributing 7.5 sacks. He was a key member of New Orleans' 2009 Super Bowl championship season, registering 10 tackles during the Saints playoff run. Fujita left New Orleans after that season, signing a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns, where he would play the final three years of his career.
Darryl Tapp enters his second season this summer wearing No. 55 for the Saints. The defensive lineman proved to be a valuable reserve in 2016, seeing action in all 16 games and starting two. He is a good run defender and brings leadership to a young corps of defensive linemen.
Other Saints players to wear No. 55: Jim Flanigan (1971), Thomas Stincic (1972), Bob Creech (1973), Don Coleman (1974-75), Rick Kingrea (1976), Floyd Rice (1978), Dave Washington (1980), Joe DeForest (1987), Joe Kohlbrand (1985-89), Scott Ross (1991), Reggie Freeman (1993), DeShone Myles (2001), Travis Carroll (2002-03), Courtney Watson (2004-05), Danny Clark (2010), Barrett Ruud (2012), Keyunta Dawson (2013), Jonathan Goodwin (2014), Davis Tull (2016).
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 55?
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