In 43 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. 43. This jersey number typically identifies fullbacks, running-backs, linebackers, and occasionally hybrid defensive ends. Unlike my journey through the 70s, this segment of the list has many candidates.
Darren Sproles (RB, 2011-2013)
The pint-sized dynamo from Kansas State is one of the most productive athletes in NFL history. Sproles has been considered a dangerous returner and wide receiver since entering the league as a 4th round pick in 2005 by the then San Diego Chargers. As a Saint, Darren joined the black and gold just in time to be key member of the historic 2011 offense led by Drew Brees. Adding fuel to the 'Chargers farm team' fire, Sproles was dynamic and exciting to watch in his three seasons with the Saints. Unfortunately, the trade that sent Sproles to the Philadelphia Eagles was met with a mixed response from fans as many felt that he had more to offer the team. He's been very productive in Philly, tying Desean Jackson's franchise record with 4 return TDs. Darren also owns 2 NFL records, one for most all purpose yards in a season and another for most total return yards in a two-game span.
Mike McKenzie (CB, 2004-2008, 2009)
McKenzie is another member of the 2009 championship Saints team who is fondly remembered for his long hair and impeccable timing in generating turnovers. After arriving in New Orleans via trade on 2004, 'Money Mike' would prove to be straight cash by leading the team in interceptions from 2004-2008. This is quite a feat (or sign of mediocrity at cornerback for the Saints) considering that McKenzie suffered knee injuries in 2007 and 2008, shortening both seasons. Mike was then released after '08, then re-signed by the team en route to the Super Bowl but was again released prior to their week 17 game. As a sign of respect and thanks, McKenzie was awarded a championship ring by the team (classy move). Mike only wore #43 for one season (2004) before switching to #34 (2005-2009).
Ashley Ambrose (CB, 1999, 2003-2004)
Ambrose only played three seasons with the Saints but makes this list due to his connection to the city of New Orleans. Ashley is a graduate of Alcee Fortier High School in New Orleans. He went on to play college football at Mississippi Valley State before being drafted as the 29th overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 1992. In 13 seasons, he picked off 42 passes and returned 3 for touchdowns and also forced 5 fumbles. After life as a player, Ambrose decided to try his hand at coaching and has remained employed from 2008 through present-day with stops at Colorado, California, the Saints, Idaho, Texas State, and finally Boise State. He's served as intern and actually staff in various roles such as defensive technical intern, wide receivers coach, and defensive backs/secondary coach. Ambrose has one Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection in 1996 to his credit and played for 4 teams during his career.
Marcus Williams (S, 2017-Present)
Williams has only selected #43 as his rookie jersey number, but there are high expectations for the ball-hawking safety from Utah. Williams earned a starting job in his freshman season in 2014 then remained the starter less a few games that were missed due to injury. As a collegiate, Williams collected 11 interceptions in three years and 188 tackles. Marcus was projected to be selected in the 1st or 2nd round of the draft and was validated with a 2nd round selection by the Saints. Jairus Byrd is no longer with the team, so an opportunity to grab a lot of snaps is right in Williams' grasp. Three-safety sets are said to be a major component of the 2017 defense, so we could him lined up deep, flanked by Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell or Rafael Bush. Let's hope he has the fire to snag a lot of interceptions for a team that has suffered without many.
Other Saints players to wear No. 43: Joique Bell, Kevin Kaesviharn, Jimmy Pruitt, Dave Kopay, Dicky Lyons, Keyuo Craver, Larry Collins, Tyrone Legette, Kim Phillips, Bobby Fowler and Garrland Jean-Batiste.
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 43?
This poll is closed