The New Orleans Saints season opener is a mere 37 days away. This season, the Saints open up on the road, against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night football. Canal Street Chronicles continues our venture towards opening day, today by taking a look back at some of the Saints players that have worn the No. 37.
Tom Myers (S, 1972-1981)
Myers was selected in the 3rd round of the 1972 draft by the Saints, and his 3 interceptions as a rookie ranked second on the team, despite starting only five games. He earned the starting free safety job by his 2nd season, a spot he would hold onto for the next 9 years. He would lead the Saints in interceptions five different seasons during his career. Between 1978-'80, Myers intercepted 17 passes, returning 2 for touchdowns, and earning a Pro Bowl berth in 1979. His 97 yard return of an interception for a touchdown in 1978 was a Saints team record not broken until 2009. Myers intercepted 36 passes during his New Orleans career, 2nd best on the team's all-time list, and scored a total of 4 defensive touchdowns. He was voted onto the Saints 45th Anniversary team, and in 1989 Tommy Myers was elected into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
Mel Gray (KR/RB, 1986-1988)
Gray is considered one of the better kickoff and punt returners in NFL history, mostly for his exploits with the Detroit Lions from 1989-94. Often forgotten is the fact that he was originally a 2nd round selection by the Saints in the 1984 supplemental draft, for players playing in the United States Football League. Gray joined the Saints in 1986, as the rival USFL was folding, and made his impact felt in New Orleans immediately, with a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown during his rookie year, and averaging almost 28 yards per kick return.
Gray’s second year as a Saint was just as explosive, leading the league with a 14.7 average per punt return, including a long of 80 yards. He added a punt return touchdown in 1988, while averaging over 12 yards per return during the season. He would leave New Orleans after the 1988 season to join the Lions, where he would go on to multiple Pro Bowl berths through the 1990's.
Bennie Thompson (DB, 1989-1991)
Thompson came to New Orleans as an undrafted rookie in 1989. During three years as a reserve defensive back with the Saints, he recorded 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. However, it was his exploits as an outstanding special teams player that earned Thompson respect throughout the league. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in 1991 as a special teams player, and remained a feared tackler through the remaining eight years of his NFL career following his free agency departure from New Orleans after the 1991 season.
Jimmy Spencer (CB, 1992-1995)
Spencer joined the Saints in 1992, after spending his rookie year before inactive with the Washington Redskins. Recovering 4 fumbles as a reserve defensive back in his first two seasons with New Orleans, Spencer was a 16 game starter at cornerback in 1994, leading the team with 5 interceptions. He repeated the feat the following season, and again led the Saints with 4 interceptions. He left the Saints after the '95 season, playing with the Bengals, Chargers, and Broncos over the final eight years of his career.
Steve Gleason (S, 2000-2006)
Gleason was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts in 2000, but was released towards the end of preseason and subsequently signed onto the Saints practice squad. He had one career interception and two fumble recoveries during his seven-year career as a reserve defensive back. It was his play as a special teams player that earned Gleason accolades from coaches and teammates, and ultimately into New Orleans Saints lore.
On a Monday night on September 25, 2006, the Saints were playing their bitter rival Atlanta Falcons in their first game back in the Superdome since the disaster of Hurricane Katrina the year before. Early in the 1st quarter, Atlanta lined up for a punt attempt. Gleason came firing through the Falcons line to block the kick, which was recovered in the end zone by the Saints Curtis DeLoatch for the game's first score, springing the Saints on to a 23-3 victory. The play remains one of the most iconic images in franchise history. Not long after Gleason's playing career had ended, it was revealed that he had ALS, a courageous battle he still fights to this day, while still a figure for the Saints and the entire New Orleans region.
Arthur Maulet begins his New Orleans Saints career this summer wearing the No. 37. Maulet is a Bonnabel high school (LA.) native and undrafted college free agent from Memphis. He looks to use his terrific athletic ability to carve out a major role in a rebuilding Saints secondary.
Other Saints players to wear No. 37: Steve Stonebreaker (1967-68), Je'Rod Cherry (1996-97), Chad Cota (1998), Dino Philyaw (1999), Todd Franz (2000), Matt Giordano (2010), Jerico Nelson (2012), Eric Frampton (2013), Terrence Frederick (2014), Brandon Dixon (2016), Chris Banjo (2016)
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 37?
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