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This Week in Saints History: January 30-February 5

January 30th

1968—College draft was held, and the Saints sent their first of two first-round picks to Green Bay in compensation for acquiring running back Jim Taylor in 1967. Kevin Hardy was drafted with the Saints' other first-round pick that year (defensive end from Notre Dame in a choice came from the Vikings). Later that year, New Orleans had to give up Hardy in compensation to the 49ers for signing away WR Dave Parks. Players who made the regular season roster from this draft included Dave Szmakowski (WR 2nd rd.), Ronnie Lee South (QB 5th), Gene Howard (CB 7th), and Jim Ferguson (LB 17th). The Saints' extra second round pick was given up to the Rams in return for joining the NFL scouting combine.

1973—College draft was held, and the Saints traded their first round pick to the Baltimore Colts in return for defensive tackle Billy Newsome. Derland Moore (defensive tackle from Oklahoma pictured right) was chosen with the first pick in the second round. Other players from that draft which made the regular season roster include Steve Baumgartner (DE 2nd rd.), Jim Merlo (LB 4th), Doug Winslow (WR 8th), Paul Fersen (T 14th), and Howard Stevens (RB 16th).

1992—The Saints trade a 1992 fifth round draft choice to the Houston Oilers in return for running back Allen Pinkett, who wound up suffering an injury in a training camp scrimmage and never played for the Saints in the regular season.

1996—Jim Haslett is promoted to defensive coordinator after Monte Kiffin steps down to take the same job in Tampa Bay.

1997—Head coach Mike Ditka announced his offensive coordinator, Danny Abramowicz (former wide receiver and Saints Hall of Famer), and Zaven Yaralian as defensive coordinator. Ditka retains Rick Venturi as linebackers coach and Bobby April as special teams coach from Jim Mora's staff. The story goes the latter two were asked to stay on as a favor to Tom Benson who felt both men acted loyally to the Saints organization when other assistant coaches were looking for jobs with other teams at the Senior Bowl (April & Venturi reportedly remained primarily focused on observing the college talent).

2011—The Pro Bowl returned to Hawaii and was played the week prior to Super Bowl. The NFC won 55-41 over AFC. Four Saints participate—quarterback Drew Brees, guard Carl Nicks, guard Jahri Evans and linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

Today's birthdays:

Jamaal Branch—Born in 1981 (Running back 2006-07)

Kelvin Clark—Born in 1956 (Guard 1982-85)

January 31st

1967—Saints head coach Tom Fears hires his first assistant, George Dickson, to be the offensive backfield coach.

1978—Saints trade away defensive tackle Bob Pollard and guard Terry Stieve to St. Louis Cardinals in return for legendary guard Conrad Dobler (pictured right) and wide receiver Ike Harris.

1982—Running back George Rogers plays in the Pro Bowl; AFC won 16-13.

1995—Saints hire Jim Haslett as linebackers coach.

1997—Chet Franklin is promoted to Assistant G.M./V.P. of Football Operations.

2010—The Pro Bowl game moved to Miami, FL for this one season, instead of Hawaii, and played the Sunday before the Super Bowl. Due to game placement, all six Saints players invited to the game did not play but took part in pre-game ceremonies. The group of soon-to-be Super Bowl champions included quarterback Drew Brees, tackle Jonathan Goodwin, guard Jahri Evans, tackle Jonathan Stinchcomb, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, and safety Roman Harper. The AFC won 41-34 over NFC.

2012—Long-time New Orleans sportscaster Jim Henderson retires from WWL-TV after 34 years of service. Jim served as play-by-play man and analyst for Saints pre-season TV games in 1978 and again from 1981-2002. He has worked as part of the Saints radio network broadcast team from 1982-1989 and then 1992 to present.

Today's birthdays:

*Mike Morgan—Born in 1942 (Linebacker 1969-70), he passed away December 2, 1996 while working in law enforcement, helping to rescue people that were trapped in a fire, resultant burns let to his passing.

February 1st

1972—College draft was held with the Saints selecting guard Royce Smith in the first round from Georgia. Other players from this draft that would make the regular season roster include Willie Hall (LB 2nd rd.), Bob Kuziel (C 3rd), Tom Myers (S 3rd), Mike Crangle (DE 4th), Joe Federspiel (LB 4th), Bill Butler (RB 5th), Carl Johnson (G 5th), Ernie Jackson (CB 7th), and Cephus Weatherspoon (WR 13th).

1987—AFC defeated NFC in the Pro Bowl, 10-6. Saints players in the contest include kicker Morten Andersen and linebacker Rickey Jackson. Running back Rueben Mayes was scheduled to play but could not due to injury.

1989—Plan B free agency began (the first of three years). The Saints protected 37 players (whether they are under contract or not) allowing others to listen to offers from other teams. The most noteworthy of the unprotected players who left was return man Mel Gray, who ended up playing many years with the Detroit Lions.

1998—AFC won the Pro Bowl, 29-24. Tackle William Roaf is the only Saints player participating.

2008—It was announced that New Orleans will face the San Diego Chargers) in an NFL regular season contest in London, England (game was played October 26, 2008).

2012—Drew Brees was named FedEx Airman of the Year (best passer) and his offensive line won the Madden-Prilosec Protectors of the Year honor.

Today's birthdays:

Israel Byrd—Born in 1971 (Cornerback 1993-95)

Travaris Cadet—Born in 1989 (Running Back 2012-present)

Rob Ninkovich—Born in 1984 (Defensive 2006, 2008)

Dave Thompson—Born in 1949 (Tackle 1974-75)

Wade Wilson—Born in 1959 (Quarterback 1993-94), he was Saints first free-agency era QB signing.

February 2nd

1986—NFC won the Pro Bowl, 28-24. Two Saints participate in contest: kicker Morten Andersen and linebacker Rickey Jackson.

1990—The Saints do not protect defensive back Dave Waymer on the plan B free agency list; a few days later he signs with the 49ers. Waymer played for the Saints from 1980-89 and became the club's all-time ingterceptions leader (37). He would later become a Saints Hall of Famer.

1992—NFC won the Pro Bowl, 21-15. The Saints players in the contest included linebackers Vaughan Johnson, Pat Swilling, and Sam Mills plus special teams coverage player Bennie Thompson (pictured right).

1997—AFC won Pro Bowl in overtime 26-23. Tackle William Roaf was the only Saints player participating.

2003—AFC defeated NFC in Pro Bowl 45-20. Four Saints players are in the contest—running back Deuce McAllister, wide receiver Joe Horn, return man Michael Lewis, and special teams coverage player Fred McAfee.

2007—Drew Brees was named NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner. Other Saints awards include Sean Payton (numerous NFL coach of the year honors) and Mickey Loomis (NFL Executive of the Year by The Sporting News & Pro Football Weekly).

Today's birthdays:

John Matsko—Born in 1951 (Offensive Line coach 1994-96)

David Rackley—Born in 1961 (Defensive back 1985)

Melvin Williams—Born in 1979 (Defensive end 2003-04)

February 3rd

1967—The Saints signed their first-ever player to a contract, kicker Paige Cothren of Ole Miss, who played for the Rams and Eagles from 1957-59. He had retired from the NFL for years before coming back. Head coach Tom Fears met him at a tryout in 1966 as an assistant coach in Atlanta.

1986—The Saints hired Steve Sidwell as defensive coordinator. He would go on to serve nine seasons with the club and help organize some of the greatest defensive units in club history. He later became the only assistant coach to be inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.

1991—AFC won Pro Bowl 23-21 over NFC. Three Saints played in the contest: kicker Morten Andersen plus linebackers Vaughan Johnson and Pat Swilling.

1992—Saints assistant coach Dom Capers (defensive backs) left to become Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator and was replaced by Jim L. Mora, son of the head coach. It was the first time the Saints had lost an assistant coach since 1987.

1994—Chip Myers wa named a Saints offensive assistant coach.

1998—Rick Venturi was named assistant head coach/defensive back coach. Jack Del Rio (an ex-Saints player) was named linebackers coach. Other staff additions include Ned James (defensive assistant), & Lary Kuharich (RBs coach), he is the brother of G.M. Bill Kuharich, previous RBs coach Tom Moore moved on to have success as offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts.

2000—Jim Haslett was named Saints head coach.

2002—Super Bowl XXXVI was held in the Louisiana Superdome. The New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams, 20-17. Patriots QB Tom Brady was named game MVP.

Today's birthdays:

Mike Crangle—Born in 1947 (Defensive end 1972)

Sean Dawkins—Born in 1971 (Wide receiver 1998)—Led Saints in receiving his one season

*Ken Shipp—Born in 1929 (Offensive Coordinator 1971-72)Passed away March 5, 2012

February 4th

1990—NFC won Pro Bowl 27-21 over AFC. Saints in contest included running back Dalton Hilliard plus linebackers Vaughan Johnson and Pat Swilling.

1996—NFC won Pro Bowl 20-13. Two Saints played in the contest: cornerback Eric Allen and tackle William Roaf.

2001—AFC won Pro Bowl 38-17. Several Saints players in the NFC sqaud included  linebacker Mark Fields, defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, wide receiver Joe Horn, defensive end Joe Johnson, linebacker Keith Mitchell and tackle William Roaf for his seventh appearance overall.

2012—Drew Brees was formally named Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Also, long-time Saints tackle William Roaf was announced as an inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio (induction in August 2012).

Today's birthdays:

Steve O'Neal—Born in 1946 (Punter 1973)

*Fred Whittingham—Born in 1939 (Linebacker 1967-68) Passed away October 27, 2003; he was part of the original Saints team.

February 5th

1967—Times-Picayune sports editor Bob Roesler wrote in his column about the possibility the Saints colors would be black and gold, "...with so many colors to pick from, please don't go the black-gold route....blue or red-white-blue or Mardi Gras colors, but please, no black. Let's make the Saints lively...if you (to owner John Mecom) insist on black and gold, maybe you should make the official team tune "St. James Infirmary."

1976—Saints hired Sam Rutigliano, future Browns head coach, as wide receivers coach.

1995—AFC won the Pro Bowl, 41-13, over NFC. Two Saints participated in contest: defensive end Wayne Martin and tackle William Roaf.

2005—Mike Sheppard was promoted to offensive coordinator after head coach Jim Haslettt fired Mike McCarthy (who went on to win a Super Bowl as head coach of the Packers).

2006—NFL announced that the Superdome would re-open on September 25th with the Saints hosting the Falcons on Monday Night Football.

Today's birthdays:

Tony Johnson—Born in 1972 (Tight end 1996-98)

Rodney Leisle—Born in 1981 (Defensive tackle 2004-06, 2009)

Siddeeq Shabazz—Born in 1981 (Defenive back 2005)

*Gary Wood—Born in 1942 (Quarterback 1967) Passed away March 3, 1994—part of original Saints team

Zaven Yaralian—Born in 1952 (Defensive Coordinator 1997-99)

 

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