The 2017 New Orleans Saints are just 5 days away from their regular season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. While the Saints prepare for their Monday night opener, Canal Street Chronicles continues our look back through team history. Today, our countdown to kickoff series looks back at the Saints players that have worn the No. 5.
Heath Shuler (QB, 1997)
Shuler was originally drafted 3rd overall by the Washington Redskins in 1994. After three seasons of poor performance and injury struggles, the Redskins traded him to the Saints in exchange for a 3rd and 5th round draft picks. Shuler played just the 1997 season as a Saint, starting nine games. He went 4-5 in those starts, and threw for a team high 1,288 yards, but also threw 14 interceptions and only 2 touchdown passes. New Orleans released Shuler after he was unable to rebound from multiple foot surgeries. He officially retired in 1998, subsequently getting involved in politics, where he served as a U.S. Representative from 2007-2013.
Garrett Hartley (K, 2008-2013)
Hartley was signed eight games into the 2008 season by New Orleans, and was perfect in converting all 13 of his field goal attempts and 28 extra points. After serving a four-game league suspension in 2009, Hartley was not activated until the Saints' 12th game, promptly kicking four field goals in an overtime victory over Washington. He resumed placekicking duties through the remainder of the regular season and playoff run in the Saints Super Bowl championship season of 2009. Hartley kicked a 40-yard overtime field goal to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, then became the first kicker in Super Bowl history to kick three field goals of over 40 yards in the Saints Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Hartley struggled with consistency early in the 2010 season, but rebounded to connect on 80% of his field goal attempts and again going perfect on extra point conversions. After missing the entire 2011 season with a hip injury, Hartley returned in 2012 to finish second in the league with 57 extra points and converting almost 82% of his field goal attempts. He struggled with consistency and accuracy in 2013, finishing with a career low 73% field goal percentage, and New Orleans released Hartley late in the season. He was signed by the Cleveland Browns late in the 2014 season, and signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the preseason of 2015. He was injured during a preseason game, and the Steelers placed him on injured reserve, bringing an end to his career.
Hartley scored 422 points during his Saints career. He missed only one of his 177 extra points, and had a career field goal percentage of 81% (to put that in perspective, Hall of Fame Saints legend Morten Andersen had a career FG percentage of 78%. Hartley was perfect on all 8 of his field goal attempts and 15 extra points in four playoff games, including one of the most memorable kicks in New Orleans franchise history.
Kai Forbath (K, 2015)
The Saints signed Forbath as a free agent six games into the 2015 season to take over their kicking duties. He converted on 9 of his 13 field goal attempts through the remainder of that season, including a few last second game winners and a 57-yard field goal, good for 3rd best in franchise history. Forbath won the kicking competition for the Saints during their 2016 training camp, but the team released him just days before the season opener, in favor of newly-signed Wil Lutz. Forbath is currently on the Minnesota Vikings roster, where he did not miss a single field goal attempt in 2016.
Other Saints players to wear No. 5: Florian Kempf (1987), Taylor Mehlhaff (2008)
Who was your favorite Saints player to wear No. 5?
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