The New Orleans Saints are only 19 days away from a brand new season. The Saints will open their 2017 regular season on the road, with a Monday night contest against the Minnesota Vikings. Canal Street Chronicles continues our march towards opening day as well. Today we look back at some of the Saints players who have worn the No. 19.
Tom Dempsey (K, 1969-1970)
Dempsey began his football career with the New Orleans Saints in 1969. Of course, most know Dempsey for his 63-yard field goal conversion to defeat the Detroit Lions on the game's final play during a game in 1970, an NFL record that stood until Matt Prater kicked a 64-yarder in 2013 (that Mile High climate though). Dempsey was actually an All-Pro kicker for the Saints in 1969 as well. That season he converted 21 out of 30 attempts from under 50 yards, led the league in field goal attempts, and was 5th in the league with 99 points scored. Dempsey had an 11-year NFL career despite the fact that he was born without fingers on his right hand or toes on his right foot, forcing him to play with a modified shoe. Tom Dempsey was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1969.
Guido Merkens (WR/QB, 1981-1985)
Merkens played one game for New Orleans in 1980, wearing number 26, after starting the first 3 seasons of his career with the Houston Oilers. Switching to No. 19 in 1981, Merkens was the Saints leading receiver on the year, with 29 receptions for 458 yards and a touchdown. He would also serve as one of the Saints backup quarterbacks and emergency punter throughout his time in New Orleans. Merkens started his only career game at quarterback in 1982, a loss, where he threw for 186 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions. He also was the team's holder on placekicks, and would occasionally line up at safety. Merkens ended his versatile career in New Orleans after the 1985 season, playing one final year with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1987 after sitting out the '86 season.
Devery Henderson (WR, 2004-2012)
Henderson was taken by the Saints with a 2nd round pick in the 2004 draft after a standout career at LSU. He saw action in just one game his rookie year, but worked his way into the offense during the 2005 season, with 343 yards and 3 touchdowns. He established himself as perhaps the Saints best deep threats in 2006. His 745 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns were both second best on the team, while his average of 23.3 yards per catch was the highest in the league.
Henderson again led the NFL in yards per catch with 24.8 in 2008, as his 793 yards again ranked second on the team. He had career highs in both receptions (51) and yards (804, second on the team) during the Saints 2009 Super Bowl season. During the playoffs, Henderson had a touchdown reception in each of the team's postseason victories over Arizona and Minnesota, and his 7 receptions were a team best, along with Marques Colston, in the Saints Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Henderson continued to be a dangerous target for Saints quarterback Drew Brees, until leaving the team as a free agent at the conclusion of the 2012 season. He signed with the Washington Redskins, but was released during training camp, bringing an end to his career. Devery Henderson's statistics over a nine-year career with one of the most productive offenses in the NFL included 245 receptions for 4,377 yards and 20 touchdowns. He had a touchdown reception in 4 of his last 6 postseason appearances with the Saints, and was on the receiving end of a 40-yard touchdown pass from Brees in 2012 that broke Johnny Unitas' 47-game streak with a touchdown pass.
Other Saints players to wear No. 19: Gary Wood (1967), Bill McClard (1973-75), Alonzo Johnson (1998), Jake Lampman (2016), Ted Ginn Jr. (current)
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 19?
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