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Countdown to New Orleans Saints Kickoff: A History of No. 45

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There’s just 45 days to go until the Saints first regular season contest.

New Orleans Saints v San Francisco 49ers Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

The 2017 regular season for the New Orleans Saints is only 45 days away. This year, the Saints begin on the road, with a Monday night showdown with the Minnesota Vikings. Canal Street Chronicles continues our walk towards opening day, with a look at the Saints players that have worn the No. 45.

Jimmy Jordan (RB, 1967)

Getting an honorable mention for being the first Saint to wear the number, Jimmy Jordan played collegiately with Steve Spurrier at Florida before being taken by the Saints in the 3rd Round of the 1967 NFL Draft. In his one year playing professionally, Jordan recorded three kickoff returns for the Black and Gold for 57 yards with a long of 27.

Jack Holmes (FB, 1978‐82)

Out of Texas Southern and from Rolling Fork, Mississippi, Jack Holmes spent most of his NFL career backing up legendary Saints fullback Tony Galbreath. Career stats for Holmes are 117 carries for 394 yards and 4 touchdowns being featured almost exclusively in short yardage situations. There’s a great video of a short interview with Holmes from the New Orleans Saints official website you can view here.

Craig “Ironhead” Heyward (RB, 1988‐1992)

Drafted by the Saints with the 24th pick of the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, Heyward only wore the number 45 jersey in his rookie season, so this may be a questionable addition. But in a list of all-time favorite Saints, Ironhead’s name would surely be included so he’s worth a double listing.

Perhaps more well-known for his use of the word “thingy” in a TV ad for soap, Craig Heyward was a bulldozer of a running back. Listed at 5’11” and 265 lbs. officially, Ironhead was rumored to frequently tip the scales at over 300 lbs.

His career numbers for the Saints aren’t exactly eye-popping and he didn’t have a 1,000+ yard season until 1995 and with the Atlanta Falcons, but every time Heyward touched the ball it electrified the Superdome crowds. He finished his Saints career with 432 carries for 1,813 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing and 67 catches for 488 yards and one TD.

Sadly, Heyward passed away after a tough battle with bone cancer in 2006.

Israel Byrd (CB, 1993‐96)

Undrafted out of Utah State, Israel Byrd was a back up cornerback for the Saints who saw limited duty outside of special teams play. Following his release by New Orleans in 1996, Byrd was on the rosters of the Scottish Claymores and Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe and briefly with the Tennessee Titans.

Jed Collins (FB, 2010-13)

It might have taken a while for Collins to crack an active roster, but it was sure worth it when he did it for the Saints. Originally going undrafted in 2008, Collins bounced around teams before finding a more stable home with the Saints practice squad in 2010. He received his shot at starting in 2011, and was rated as Pro Football Focus’ second-best fullback of the year. He had 7 touchdowns over his career, missing just one game in three years. Collins went to Detroit in 2014 on a one-year deal, but hasn’t played in an active game since that season.

Tight end Garrett Griffin sports the number for 2017, and we couldn’t forget to mention that Hau’oli Kikaha wore No. 45 during training camp and preseason in his rookie season (2015), but swapped to No. 44 to pay tribute to where he was drafted (44th overall).

Others to Wear No. 45: Elbert Kimbrough, S, 1968, Arthur Green, RB, 1972, Pete Athas, S, 1976, Time Wilson, FB, 1983-1984, John Williams, FB, 1986, Nate Johnson, RB, 1987, Stan Petry, CB, 1991, Toben Opurum, FB, 2015

Poll

Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 45?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Jimmy Jordan
    (1 vote)
  • 6%
    Jack Holmes
    (12 votes)
  • 74%
    Craig Heyward...but is that cheating?
    (134 votes)
  • 17%
    Jed Collins
    (32 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now