Canal Street Chronicles continues our countdown to Saints kickoff, today by looking back at some of the players that have worn the number 40 for the black and gold.
Terry Schmidt (CB, 1974-1975)
Schmidt was a 5th round draft choice in 1974 by New Orleans. He tied for the team lead with 4 interceptions his rookie year, returning one for a touchdown, and earning a spot on the NFL All-Rookie team despite playing in only nine games. He had another interception, to go along with 3 fumble recoveries in the 1975 campaign. Schmidt joined the Chicago Bears after the '75 season, where he would play the last nine years of his professional career.
Dalton Hilliard (RB, 1986)
Hilliard, of course, is one of the best offensive players in the history of the New Orleans Saints. However, he is most known for wearing the number 21, and therefore will be covered more in depth later in our countdown. Worth noting here is that during Hilliard's rookie season of 1986 he did wear the No. 40, before switching to 21 in 1987. Hilliard did show a preview of things to come in that rookie year, by finishing second on the team in rushing yards (425) and rushing touchdowns (5), while finishing second among Saints running backs in receptions and receiving yards. We will see more of this New Orleans great later in our countdown.
Robert Massey (CB, 1989-1990)
Massey was a 2nd round selection by the Saints in the 1989 draft. He was an immediate starter at cornerback, where he was second on the team with 5 interceptions, and second on the team in tackles. He was again a 16-game starter for the Saints 1990 playoff squad, leading all defensive backs in tackles. Massey left New Orleans after that season, joining the Phoenix Cardinals, where he would be a Pro Bowl cornerback, and played for three more teams before the end of his career in 1997.
Brian Milne (FB, 2000)
Milne was one of the greatest track & field athletes to come out of the state of Pennsylvania, and was a terrific fullback at Penn State. After a 4-year career with the Bengals, and part of one season with the Seahawks, Milne played with the Saints for just one year, 2000, his last in the NFL. Although he was a terrific special teams player, and saw action in all 16 games, Milne's stat line was 5 receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown. He was also one of the primary lead blockers for Ricky Williams' first 1,000 yard rushing season, as the Saints shocked the league with a "worst to first" finish and an NFC West title.
Milne made his mark on New Orleans Saints history with one play:
"Hakim drops the ball! Hakim drops the ball! Brian Milne might have fallen on it at the 10 yard line! It's the New Orleans Saints' football! Brian Milne, the most unlikely hero of them all, falls on the fumble, the muff by Hakim! There is a god after all!"
That was the legendary call made by Saints play-by-play man Jim Henderson on Dec. 30, 2000, in the 4th quarter of a first round playoff game against the St. Louis Rams. The Saints had built an early lead, only to see the Rams charge back to position themselves to take over the game. Milne's 4th quarter fumble recovery on a muffed punt by Az-Zahir Hakim helped clinch the win, and the first ever playoff victory by the New Orleans franchise.
Delvin Breaux (CB, 2015-current)
Currently wearing No. 40 for the Saints, Breaux's story is both courageous and remarkable. A high school star near New Orleans, LA, Breaux was an L.S.U. recruit that suffered a major vertebrae injury in 2006 during a high school football game. Told by some that he would never play football again, Breaux recovered to play in a semi-pro league, then joined the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League, before joining Hamilton of the Canadian Football League in 2013. He played at an all-star level in the CFL for two years before joining the Saints as a free agent in the spring of 2015.
By the end of training camp in his first NFL season, Breaux was named a starting cornerback, starting all 16 games and leading the team in both interceptions and passes defensed. Breaux struggled in 2016, appearing in only six games dues to a broken leg and shoulder injuries. He looks to rebound in 2017, as a key figure in a revamped Saints secondary.
Other Saints players that have worn No. 40: Earl Gros (1970), Hoyle Granger (1971), Jim Marsalis (1977), Greg Knafelc (1983), Michael Adams (1987-88), Wes Bender (1997), Marvin Powell (1999), Mel Mitchell (2002-05), Mike Bell (2008), Jonathon Amaya (2011), Brian Leonard (2014)
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 40?
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