In 71 days, on Sept. 11, the Minnesota Vikings will host the New Orleans Saints, in the 2017 season opener for both teams. Canal Street Chronicles continues our own series of countdown to kickoff, today we take a look at a few Saints players that have worn the No. 71. As most sports fans know, this jersey number typically identifies offensive and defensive linemen, making this a pretty short list of large men.
Richard Cooper (OT, 1990-1995)
Cooper played nine years in the NFL, six were spent with the Saints. He was an undrafted free agent and managed to get the n the field in two games in 1990. Cooper would follow that up by becoming the starter in 1991 would hold down the left tackle gig for 72 starts before heading off to Philadelphia to become an Eagle and finish his career there. Richard reminds us of the very average offensive talent in New Orleans during the teams strongest defensive era. He retired in 1995.
Fred Stokes (DE, 1996)
Stokes was a 12th round draft pick in 1987 and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Washington Redskins in 1991 while accumulating 2 1⁄2 sacks, one forced and recovered fumble in the big game. His Saints achievements were limited to 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 6 tackles in nine games. Stokes would retire and become a worldwide food product salesman to the military. Stokes is also a published author.
Kurt Schumacher (OG/OT, 1975-1977)
It feels like the Saints have had the worst luck when selecting players in the first round. Apparently they need too have two choices to get at least one right for the most part. This history of poor evaluation goes back to the early years and Schumacher is another name on the list. He was selected 12th overall in 1975 and only started 9 games in 3 seasons. Kurt was such a bust, he gets mentioned on NOLA.com’s 2011 list of draft busts. As (un)luck should have it, Schumacher was the Saints second 1st rounder in 1975. Wide receiver Larry Burton was the first Saints selection at #7 and also didn’t pan out, only lasting five seasons in the league (at least he was fast and placed fourth in the 200 meters at the 1972 Olympic Games).
Kendrick Clancy (DT, 2007-2010)
Clancy is one of the least known Super Bowl 44 Champions from the Saints roster, mainly because he was injured in the opening game and ended up on injured reserve after just two games in 2009. In fact, I had never heard of him until I started researching for this piece. Kendrick was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers at pick #72 in the 2000 draft and remained with them until 2004. He made two additional NFL stops before heading to the Big Easy in 2007 and was released in preseason of 2010. Over his 10 year NFL career, he achieved 150 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. Fun fact: Clancy is exactly 14 days older than yours truly and will be turning 39 in September.
I hope that you all enjoy this installment as much as I enjoyed writing it. Some of these blasts from the pasts have unique and interesting journeys. One ‘honorable mention’ player I’d like to add is Jeff Winans. His time with the Saints was very short-lived (1 season) but his family and foundation have been at the forefront of research and associated works for concussions. The efforts are commendable to say the least and you wouldn’t be disappointed if you check out his story.
Who was the most interesting player to wear No. 71?
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