While I am hardly a bandwagon jumper when it comes to the Saints, I have to admit, I have not suffered nearly as much as longtime fans have. I got into the game just as the team has hit its stride as a perennial contender. After all, this is a team that took 20 years just to make the playoffs and more than 30 years to actually win a playoff game. I am spoiled in retrospect.
At 8-2, the Saints are in the driver's seat to win the division and with a few breaks, they could be the number one seed in the conference. That last point is critical as teams have a habit of coming into the Superdome and getting thoroughly destroyed. At the beginning of the year, The Falcons looked like a huge obstacle in all this. Instead, they are a minor speed bump. Hopefully, they will not play spoiler and just lay down at home as they have to seemingly every other team this year.
Seeing as this game is on Thursday night, I figured it would be a good time to do a little Throwback special for the Saints. Since I have covered the actual design of these cards before, lets instead look at the players and overall teams for the Saints from back before they could even dream of finishing above .500.
1987 Saints: 12-3.
Well, okay, this was the first glimmer of hope. This was the first season the Saints finished above .500 and also the first they made the playoffs. They lost that first playoff game to the Vikings 44-10. In fact, they lost their first 4 playoff games by a cumulative score of 123-56.
1986 Saints: 7-9.
You will notice as we go through these pages that the kicker and punter always seem to be prominently represented for the Saints. In sets where they were only making 10-12 cards per team, this is not the sign of a quality team.
1982 Saints: 4-5.
During a strike year, the Saints won 4 games. This was more games than they had won in 6 of their first 13 seasons. Oh, and remember that punter/kicker observation from before? The Saints once drafted a punter in the first round. That man was Russell Erxleben. Now, as crazy as this notion seems when your team is terrible, you would think if you are going to use/waste your first draft pick on a punter, he would be one hell of a punter, right? Well, of course he flamed out in about six years. He even eventually spent time in federal prison. And weirdest of all, this is not the worst thing the Saints ever did during the draft. Aren't those black and gold uniforms handsome, though?
1981 Saints: 4-12.
Looking at the faces of the players on these cards, you would think they had spent time in 'nam recently rather than playing professional football. Only the kicker is kind of almost breaking a smile, and that's only compared to the other faces on this page. This was a year after The Aints and their 1-15 season so this team was comparatively a great improvement. Yikes.
1979 Saints: 8-8.
Between 1967 and 1986, this record was the high water mark. Actually, when speaking of New Orleans, maybe that is the wrong turn of phrase. All praise Chuck Muncie: Original Hipster. The man had a look.
1978 Saints: 7-9.
Seven wins was as many wins as they had in the two previous seasons combined. Archie Manning deserved better than the teams he was saddled with in the 70's. As it is, he has the lowest winning percentage of any QB in history. I guess he got his revenge through his bloodline by unleashing Eli and Peyton on the world two decades later.
1974 Saints: 5-9.
You gotta love the poses on these cards. Everyone looks like they walked right off the set of The Longest Yard or North Dallas Forty. Bob Pollard not only looks like a serious serious man, he has the same name as the lead singer of my favorite band ever not named The Beatles.
My complete pages of team years ends there. From there, it is all 3x3. This might be for the best as the records are more of the same: 1975 2-12, 1973 5-9, 1971 4-8-2. At least they only played 14 games back then.
Happy Feller? Seriously?
1972 2-11-1, 1970 2-11-1, 1969 5-9.
Dan Abramowitz sounds and looks like he should be your accountant and not a pro football player. Instead, he was one of the best players of the early Saints. And I gotta say, the late 60's and early 70's posed pictures are 100x better than the candid sideline photos of players without their helmets on from the late 70's and early 80's. Such jaunty angles and variety. Scroll back up to those 1981 cards again and these. It looks like it's not even the same sport.