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JOESAM2002 08-09-2003 06:42 PM

A few words from Joe Horn...

Saints News

Skys the Limit?

Wide receiver Joe Horn has never been afraid to think big, and he's set his sights on catching passes for 1,800 yards this season. But as long as the Saints are winning, he's content to contribute in any way he can

Saturday August 09, 2003

John Deshazier

He speculated that 1,800 yards is a pie-in-the-sky kind of thing, knowing that if the ball is distributed as evenly as it should be, such a number of receiving yards will be almost impossible to hit this season.

This Saints may have more quality receivers on their roster than at any time in franchise history. And when one factors in the presence of running back Deuce McAllister, spreading the wealth is logical -- the better to keep opponents guessing.

So Joe Horn will make do with what he gets.

"With Jerome (Pathon) and Donté (Stallworth), I doubt 1,800 yards would happen," Horn said.

Such a feat has been accomplished in the NFL by only Jerry Rice, who had 1,848 yards with the 49ers in 1995. But if anyone is going to do it in a Saints' uniform, Horn figures to be the man. And not simply because he has the gumption to mention the possibility.

The best thing about Horn -- the absolute, positive best -- is that he doesn't back down from expectations. Plus, he is never, ever at a loss for words. And most of the time, he plays to the level of the tongue-wagging.

Horn has produced the most prolific three-year stretch of any receiver in Saints' history -- 265 catches, 3,917 yards and 24 touchdowns. That's an average of 88 receptions, 1,306 yards and eight scores.

Those are numbers to expect from Pro Bowl-caliber players -- which Horn has been invited to three straight years -- and production teams get used to seeing from No. 1 receivers.

"(But) I'm not the No. 1 receiver," Horn protested to an audience deaf to such nonsense. "I didn't say that.

"Listen, honestly, it doesn't matter about the money (Horn signed a three-year, $12.8 million deal this offseason), it doesn't matter about the Pro Bowls or the individual goals. I want to go to a Super Bowl. I don't give a damn, really, if Dontè had 95 balls and Jerome had 80 and I had 20. I want to go to the Super Bowl, get a ring and retire happily ever after. That's exactly what I want to do."

Wherever the Saints go this season, the safe assumption is Horn will have a significant role in taking them there. After all, he hasn't had less than 83 catches, 1,265 yards or seven touchdowns in any of his three years with the club.

He said he'll go with the flow as long as the wins pile up. But if the Saints absorb a few too many losses and Horn thinks he's not getting the ball enough, he won't be happy.

"If we're winning and I'm not getting the ball, and Deuce has got 2,500 yards, I don't care," Horn said. "But if we're getting . . . whooped, and I'm not getting the ball and I'm getting four or five passes thrown at me a game, then I'm gonna be (expletive.)"

Fair enough. Horn has skins on the wall and has earned the right to vent when times are lean. Teams are willing to tolerate some criticism from leaders when the criticism is on point, it doesn't affect their production and it doesn't fracture the locker room.

Anyway, Horn's voice mostly stirs up opponents. He'll poke the nest during the week and stand still Sunday, ready for the swarm. Because, he said, other than the defending Super Bowl champs, all teams are on equal footing.

"Teams that go to the playoffs and have a 12-4 season, go to the playoffs and almost make it to the Super Bowl and feel like they're comfortable because they beat a certain team, that's not good," Horn said. "I have respect for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because they won the Super Bowl. You won't hear me saying anything bad about Tampa. I can't. They have Super Bowl rings.

"But other teams that go to the playoffs, say, 'We almost did this,' and 'We almost did that, we beat the Saints,' it doesn't matter. They're in the same boat that I am -- without a Super Bowl ring."

It's a situation Horn is determined to help change, 1,800 yards or not.

[Edited on 9/8/2003 by JOESAM2002]

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