The Minnesota Vikings will host the New Orleans Saints in just 41 days in the first of the NFL’s Monday Night Football double-header for opening weekend. 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. 41. 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.
Toi Cook (CB, 1987-1993)
Cook is one of the first Saints players that I could identify on sight and by name. He was drafted 207th overall in the 1987 draft, and embarked on a football career after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins. He turned the opportunity down. During his stint with Saints, Cook was a mix of good and bad, often ending up on the wrong end of big plays. By the end of his tenure in New Orleans, he was a savvy veteran corner and grabbed 6 interceptions in 1992 and returned one for a TD. Cook would last another season, then made his way to San Francisco and won a Super Bowl with 49ers. After 3 seasons, Toi tried out for the Denver Broncos before eventually signing with the Carolina Panthers. He is one of the former NFL players serving as an Ambassador for USA Football’s Heads Up Program.
Roman Harper (S, 2006–2013, 2016)
“ Roamin' “ Harper was selected 43rd overall in the 2006 draft and was all set to be a key member of the defense. Unfortunately, he landed on injured reserve in October and would miss the rest of the season. 2007 and moving forward, Harper became a fixture on the Saints defense while being used as more of a safety/linebacker hybrid who supported the run and rushed the passer with efficiency. He reached a career peak in 2009 earning a Pro Bowl nod and being a leader on the Super Bowl 44 defense. One of a few players who could be identified without a helmet on, his famous gray afro and beard have been the butt of more than a few 'old man' jokes. Roman is also remembered for being run down by quarterback Sam Bradford while returning a fumble recovery. He was later a cap casualty in 2014 and signed with the Panthers, hanging around for 2 years and playing in a Super Bowl with the kitties. Harper hit the road again and ended up back in New Orleans for another ride with the Saints. As of today, he is a free agent and has not retired.
Bob Newland (WR, 1971-1974)
Newland was a 7th round pick by the Saints in 1971. In four seasons, he caught 124 passes for 1,877 yards and 8 TDs, equivalent to a strong season in today's NFL. His best season in yards and catches was 1972 when he grabbed 47 passes for 579 yards. His most productive scoring season was 1973 when he caught 4 TD passes. As a fun fact, I'd like to share Newland's fantasy performance in his four NFL seasons: 1971 – 31 pts, 1972 – 69 pts, 1973 – 72 pts, & 1974 – 61 pts. IN his best fantasy season, he would have ranked 37th in the league, not too shabby. It appears that Newland was a bright spot in some dark years with the Saints.
Jimmy Rogers (RB, 1980-1984)
Rogers signed with the Saints in 1980 after finishing college and going undrafted in 1979. He spent a season on the practice roster of the Edmonton Eskimos and was rewarded with a Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League equivalent of Lombardi trophy. Rogers was the Saints top runner in 1980 and an awesome return man, covering 930 yards on kicks. Rogers was replaced by George Rogers in 1981 but stuck with the team for two additional seasons as a backup. For Jimmy it was business as usual being a backup as he sat behind Billy Sims in college. Between college football and his last 4 years in the NFL, he spent his career waiting in the wings of Heisman trophy winners. What a life. Just call him 'the other Rogers'!
Other Saints players to wear #41: John Gilliam, William Strong, Erik Lorig, and Tim Carter