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Pat Swilling: The Best Time In My Life........

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; 'THE BEST TIME IN MY LIFE' Former Saints player made his mark terrorizing quarterbacks with the help of the Dome Patrol By Jimmy Smith When Bill Parcells was in the middle of his Super Bowl reign with the New York ...

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Old 06-17-2007, 03:48 AM   #1
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Cool Pat Swilling: The Best Time In My Life........

'THE BEST TIME IN MY LIFE'
Former Saints player made his mark terrorizing quarterbacks with the help of the Dome Patrol

By Jimmy Smith

When Bill Parcells was in the middle of his Super Bowl reign with the New York Giants and coaching a defense built around arguably the finest outside linebacker to ever play in the NFL, Parcells often motivated the man who wore the red, white and blue No. 56 by invoking the name of the man who wore the black and gold No. 56.

Shortly before the Giants were getting ready to play the Los Angeles Rams in a 1990 playoff game, Parcells told Lawrence Taylor, a future Hall of Famer, that he had a plane ticket for him.

"I want you to go to New Orleans," Parcells told Taylor. "Go find Pat Swilling. Give him your plane ticket and your helmet. You stay in New Orleans and have a nice time. He'll play."

During that season, Swilling, in two games against the Saints' NFC West rival, had sacked Rams quarterback Jim Everett 4 1/2 times on his way to a total of 16 1/2 sacks and his first Pro Bowl berth.

Taylor, who finished with 15 sacks in 1989, had zero sacks of Everett in a regular-season game against Los Angeles, but was voted to his ninth consecutive Pro Bowl.

Swilling isn't yet in Canton, Ohio, as is Taylor. But he'll join former Saints linebackers and Dome Patrol teammates Rickey Jackson and the late Sam Mills when he is inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in Natchitoches on June 23.

"I tell you what, for a little old kid from Toccoa, Ga., that ain't too bad," said Swilling, whose 12-year NFL career included five Pro Bowl appearances -- four as a member of the Saints -- an Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year award in 1991, 185 games, 106 1/2 career sacks and six interceptions. He ranks third on the Saints' all-time sacks list with 76 1/2.

"I'm really excited about it. It's going to be an exciting day, being from Georgia and all. I'm in Georgia's Hall of Fame, and it's tough to get into somebody else's hall of fame. So this is a great honor."

Swilling was a third-round draft choice by the Saints out of Georgia Tech in 1986, the year Jim Finks and Jim Mora arrived in town, which proved to be a seminal moment in the franchise's history.

Never before had the Saints had a winning season, and by 1987, the Saints had become winners for the first time -- a 12-3 record in a season shortened by one game because of the NFL players' strike and a franchise-record nine consecutive victories. Swilling also had joined with Jackson, Mills and Vaughan Johnson to form a group many believe was the greatest set of linebackers in league history.

Swilling's speed-rushing ability on the right side of the Saints' 3-4 defense was the perfect complement to Jackson's strength and quickness on the left side, bookends to Mills and Johnson, who were fearsome in the middle.

The group made NFL history in 1992 when it became the first group of starting linebackers to all be picked to the Pro Bowl.

Yet it's not that memory that is fondest in Swilling's mind.

"It's going to sound strange to you, but all those games playing with Rickey, Sam, Vaughan and that whole '80s crew, that was the best time in my life," said Swilling, who also played with the Detroit Lions (1993-94) and Oakland Raiders (1995-96, 199 before retiring and becoming a Louisiana legislator for 2 1/2 years.

"I look back on it, everybody knows us for the Dome Patrol. But . . . playing with those guys, when I left here, I never got that feeling again. I enjoyed playing in Oakland, didn't enjoy playing much in Detroit. But nothing compares to those years with the Saints and those great players I played with."

Much of that joy could be attributed to the Saints' win-loss record. In Swilling's rookie season of 1986, the Saints went 7-9, before the breakthrough of 1987 in which they went to the playoffs for the first time. In 1988, the Saints finished 10-6 before a 9-7 mark in 1989, 8-8 and another playoff berth in 1990, the team's first-ever division title in 1991 with an 11-5 record (when Swilling put up a then-team-record 17 sacks) and third postseason appearance and a 12-4 record in 1992 and a fourth playoff spot, capped off by the Dome Patrol's appearance in the Pro Bowl.

That was the last time Swilling, Jackson, Johnson and Mills played together.

"That said so much not only for our success, but for our success as far as the team defense and everything we had done together collectively as a group," said Swilling, who still lives in New Orleans and works in real estate. "I look back on my career, and you kind of savor and appreciate the individual honors.

"But they just don't mean as much as the group's success and all the great times we had together. The older I get, when I look back on it, I had so many great times with those guys. The Pittsburgh stand (a goal-line stand that ensured the Saints' first-ever winning season), I wasn't even in the game then. I was on the sideline. But it means just as much to me now as it did then. And it's just because of the group effort. All of those guys are the reason I'm going into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. All the individual success I had then doesn't mean a darn thing. It's because of that whole group.

"That was one of the best times of my life, considering all the hard luck the Saints had had. To be part of that first division championship and all those great years . . . that just meant so much to our team and our whole region. I look at what the team is doing now, but we were the first. And that means a lot."

"I think the DOME PATROL should be in the NFL Hall Of Fame as a group, or at lest mentioned. Jackson and Swilling should be in the NFL HOF as individuals, Jackson most definitely. That's the question I pose to you B&G Nation. Why haven't the NFL inducted Ricky Jackson into it's Pro Football Hall Of Fame?

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Old 06-17-2007, 07:43 AM   #2
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THEY PLAYED FOR THE SAINTS NO MORE NO LESS.
We are still viewed as one of the odd ball teams in the NFL. If that grouped played else where they would have been mentioned for the hall already. Do not get your hopes up, the hall is the heaven of the sports writers and they have little respect for the city much less the team.
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:28 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by hagan714 View Post
THEY PLAYED FOR THE SAINTS NO MORE NO LESS.
We are still viewed as one of the odd ball teams in the NFL. If that grouped played else where they would have been mentioned for the hall already. Do not get your hopes up, the hall is the heaven of the sports writers and they have little respect for the city much less the team.
They love and respect our city and our different cultures, that's why they love to cover major sporting events in New Orleans. it's not the city that they don't respect but the team and it's losing tradition. Mora brought a winning attitude around here for a while and for a while the NFL took notice, from the late 80's through the early 90's we were dominating on defense and well respected through the league. Then came the DARK AGES, the Ditka years, he single handedly destroyed our team, Ditka made us a laughing stock, the joke of the entire league, any respect that was gain was miserably lost. Coach Has, who I think gets a bum rap, again brought us to the brink of respectability. Under Haslett we kind of stayed idle for a while, always right there but not able to get over that one or two game hump, then the hurricane destroyed any hope of anything positive in 2005. Now here we sit atop of our division with an appearance in the NFC Championship game, and the league's #1 offense. 2007 is going to go a long way in determining if we are going to be respected or just looked upon as the darlings of 2006 and that's it. That's why this upcoming, and future seasons is so crucial, maybe when we win that elusive Superbowl maybe, just maybe that light of respect will shine bright enough to include our warriors of the past.

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Old 06-19-2007, 04:21 AM   #4
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Wait a minute dude. Carl Smith loving destroyed the saints not Ditka.
At the end of Moras coaching time here he was faced with a choice keep the defensive coaches intact or keep Carl Smith OC. The media and the fans were all over him because the offense was the weak link of the team and play calling was being hammered by all of us. Carlonia gets the expantion and the rest is history. The defensive coaching staff went on to create a winning orginazation. While here in NO Mora and the Brain trust Pooh-Poohed all over us by gutting the defense. Mora went done in flames arm in arm with his man love. We the fans hard to go on the honey Moon from hell with them. Then came Dicka and his playing with himself and the team. ever wonder why he was shown from the waiste up? He was always playing with his dicka. On running joke form my time in Minni. Fans would stand when he came onto the field and grab their dickas' as a salute to him.
Back to the topic.
Do not put Mora a pedestal. He gets a soap box.
Dicka just needed some private time with himself.

"We may have lost the game, but you'll be hurting tomorrow." Doug Atkins
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