The New Orleans Saints regular season begins only 25 days from now. The Saints open this year with a nationally televised game against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night football. Canal Street Chronicles continues our countdown to kickoff series today, with a look back at some of the New Orleans players who have worn the No. 25.
Johnnie Poe (CB, 1981-1987)
Poe not only made the Saints roster as a 6th round draft choice in 1981, but he also went on to start 15 of the team's games as a rookie. He started 73 consecutive games between 1982-86, as one of the leaders on a talented New Orleans defense through the mid-1980s. Poe led the Saints with 7 interceptions during the 1983 season, scoring a defensive touchdown, as his 146 yards on interception returns ranked 2nd in the league. During his 7-year career with New Orleans, Poe intercepted 17 passes, returning two for touchdowns, and recovered 6 fumbles.
Fred McAfee (RB, 1991-1993, 2001-2005)
McAfee, a 6th round pick in the 1991 draft by New Orleans, played two different stints with the Saints during a 16-year NFL career. Known mainly for his outstanding special teams play, McAfee's career high in rushing yards was achieved in his very first season, with a team high 494 yards. McAfee departed New Orleans after the '93 season for a brief stop with the Cardinals before joining the Pittsburgh Steelers for five seasons, then a season with Tampa Bay, before re-joining the Saints in 2000 (wearing No. 26). He switched back to number 25 for the 2001 season, and continued to be a special teams standout.
For his excellent play on the "extra" unit, McAfee earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2002. He was a team leader, despite rare opportunities on the offensive side of the ball, and a consistent special teams captain for the Saints. McAfee gave up his No. 25 for top draft choice Reggie Bush in 2006, wearing instead the number 30, in what turned out to be his final year in the league. Upon his retirement in 2007, the Saints promoted the respected McAfee into a front office position, a post he holds to this day. McAfee was a unanimous selection as the special teams player on the Saints 45th Anniversary team.
Alex Molden (CB, 1996-2000)
Molden was taken with the 11th overall pick of the 1st round by the Saints in the 1996 draft. Molden is viewed by some as one of the bigger draft "busts" in Saints history. Statistically, he had some moments. He led New Orleans defensive backs in sacks (4), and fumbles forced (3) in 1997, and his 3 interceptions during the 2000 season was second on the team. Before joining the San Diego Chargers in 2001, Molden had totaled 8 interceptions, 8 sacks, and 7 fumbles forced or recovered over his five seasons in New Orleans.
Reggie Bush (RB, 2006-2010)
The former Heisman Trophy winner was selected with the 2nd overall pick in the 2006 draft, the first draft pick of the Sean Payton era. His 565 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns were both second on the team, but Bush made even more of an impact as a receiver that rookie season. His 88 receptions not only led the Saints, but finished 2nd among all running backs in the league. Bush finished with 1,307 yards from scrimmage, had 8 offensive touchdowns and added another punt return score while earning a spot on the NFL's All-Rookie team.
Bush led the team in rushing in his second year, adding 73 receptions and 6 offensive touchdowns despite missing five games. Bush struggled with a knee injury throughout the 2008 season, playing in parts of just 10 games. He still managed to rank second on the team with 52 receptions, and scored 3 punt return touchdowns during the season to lead the NFL.
He again struggled with nagging injuries during the Saints Super Bowl championship season of 2009, although he still scored 8 offensive touchdowns. Bush did rebound for the postseason, having a game for the ages in New Orleans' divisional playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals. He rushed for 84 yards and a score during the victory, adding a dynamic 83 yards punt return touchdown in the 4th Quarter to punctuate the win. Bush caught a key 4th Quarter touchdown pass in the Saints overtime win against the Minnesota Vikings the following week, a game that sent them to Super Bowl XLIV and a world championship. After a 2010 season again marred by injury, Bush was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2011, where he would have two successful seasons before winding down his career with 3 different teams.
Reggie Bush scored 29 touchdowns on 4,232 yards from scrimmage during his New Orleans career, averaging nearly 60 receptions per season and adding four punt return touchdowns. He was a member of the Saints 45th Anniversary team.
Other Saints players to wear No. 25: Jerry Simmons (1967), Al Dodd (1969-1971), Jerry Moore (1973-74), Leon McQuay (1976), Wade Bosarge (1977), Brad Muster (1994), P.J. Williams (2016, current), Rafael Bush (2012-15, current)
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 25?
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