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Halo 01-25-2010 03:31 PM

Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
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By Bill Randall - This is a courtesy article for those in the media who will be covering the New Orleans Saints’ FIRST EVER APPEARANCE in a Super Bowl. Yes, this is sort of a Cinderella story. That’s why this article is submitted. Some of the facts that follow are readily available; other details presented may be obscure. But if you put some of these details in your sports journal toolbox, you’ll gain additional credibility by bringing facts that most others will NOT weave into their stories.

With that, here are some important details on the city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the NFL Saints that may escape the casual reporter:

* The city of New Orleans was founded on May 7, 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieure de Bienville. New Orleans was actually once the capital of the Louisiana. The capital was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1849.

* The state of Louisiana does NOT have counties; the state is instead divided into parishes.

* Key streets in New Orleans are 1) Canal St. (...streets that cross Canal St. change to North or South depending on direction of travel, OR the street's NAME changes altogether), and 2) Claiborne Ave (…which is the LONGEST continuous street/avenue in the city). The city’s HIGHEST elevation is about +14 ft (above sea level) where Canal St. meets the Mississippi river.

* Nicknames for New Orleans include (but are not limited to): The City that Care Forgot, America's Most Interesting City, America’s Most European City, America's European Masterpiece, The Big Easy, Birthplace of Jazz, Mardi Gras City, Super Bowl City, City of Mystery, City of the Chefs, The Crescent City, City of Festivals, America's Favorite City, Saint City, NOLA, Paris of the South, Queen City of the South, and N’Awlins.

* The French Quarter is bounded by the following (going clockwise): The Mississippi River, Canal St., North Rampart St., and Esplanade Ave. The nickname “Crescent City” was given based on the streets that were built to follow the curvature of the Mississippi River (which curves around the western part of the city).

* The modern supermarket was pioneered (after WW-II) by the late John Schwegmann, who opened a series of supermarkets in the New Orleans area. His first of 18 stores was opened near the intersection of St. Claude Ave. and Elysian Fields Ave. When John Schwegmann died in 1996 (along with the ultimate sale of the supermarket chain), it had a devastating impact on the (local) New Orleans economy. Nearly all New Orleanians who are “baby boomers” or older, will readily remember the shopping (at one time or another) at Schwegmann’s.

* Prior to hurricane Katrina, metropolitan New Orleans was the most densely populated city in the United States (i.e.: more people per square mile than anywhere else). The metropolis (to date) still has more than 25% fewer residents than pre-Katrina numbers. Hurricane Katrina actually weakened the city’s extensive levee system, which failed along the banks of the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchatrain. Ironically, the city experienced another flood (almost 40 years to the day BEFORE Katrina). Hurricane Betsy ravaged the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette areas during the 1st week of September 1965; Katrina hit New Orleans the last week of August 2005. Much work still remains in the rebuilding process, but the city (and region) have shown tremendous resolve and resiliency in the years subsequent to Hurricane Katrina.

* The politicians instrumental in getting an NFL team in New Orleans included (but were not limited to): a) U.S. Senator Hale Boggs, b) New Orleans Mayor Victor Schiro, and c) Louisiana Governor John McKeithen. The team was officially awarded on November 1, 1966 (All Saints Day).

* The Saints’ first regular season game was September 7, 1967 vs. the Los Angeles Rams before 80,879 fans at Tulane Stadium (Saints lost the game 27-13). The Saints won their first regular season game on November 5, 1967 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.

* The Saints’ General Manager is Mickey Loomis, who is regarded by most in the Saints’ fan base as among the best in the NFL.

* Saints’ sportscaster Jim Henderson (WWL-TV and AM 870) is regarded by most in the Saints’ fan base as among the best in the nation.

* New Orleans’ primary newspaper is the Times Picayune. Its circulation is in most of Louisiana, and along the Mississippi/Alabama Gulf Coast.

* The Saints’ training camp is now held in Metairie (at Saints’ facilities on Airline Drive), but in recent former years, it was held at Milsaps facility (in Mississippi).

* Celebrities from New Orleans: Celebrities associated with New Orleans and Louisiana - 125 web sites (add: Tyler Perry, and Gospel singer Yolanda Adams). Retired major league baseball star Rusty Staub hails from New Orleans. Legendary Grambling football head coach (the late Eddie Robinson) hails from Jackson, LA. Retired All-pro running back Marshall Faulk hails from New Orleans; retired QB (and Super Bowl XXII MVP) Doug Williams is from Zachary, LA; retired QB (Pro Bowler) and WWL radio sportscaster Bobby Hebert (pronounced: A-Bear) hails from Cut Off, LA. Retired All-pro QB, 4-time Super Bowl winner and Pro football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw hails from Shreveport, LA; retired basketball center Robert Parish (with the World Champion Celtics) hails from Shreveport, LA, and current Saints' cornerbacks: Tracy Porter hails from Port Allen and CB Randall Gay hails from Baton Rouge; teammate Devery Henderson hails from Lafayette, LA. Scores of other current and former professional athletes, entertainers and professionals (too numerous to mention in this article) are from Louisiana.

* Former sportscasters who were (and still are) endeared to the New Orleans Saints’ fan base are the late: 1) Lloyd (Hap) Glaudi, 2) Wayne Mack, 3) Buddy Diliberto, 4) Peter (Champ) Clark, 5) Al Wester, 6) Mel Leavitt

* The first Saints’ player to win NFL honors was Danny Abramowicz, who (in 1969) won the NFL receiving title with 73 catches for 1,015 yards.

* Ricky Jackson (member of the Saints’ Dome Patrol defense) is the first original Saints finalist given consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Canton, OH). Current Saints (past coaches & players) who are in the NFL Hall of Fame were inducted mainly for career accomplishments PRIOR to New Orleans. They include: DE Doug Atkins (1967 – 69), RB Earl Campbell (1984 & 1985), GM Jim Finks (1986 – 93), Head Coach Hank Stram (1976 & 1977), FB Jim Taylor (1967), Head Coach Mike Ditka (1997 – 99), and Head Coach Tom Fears (1967-70).

* You have to know how to pronounce the following: 1) Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez (Let the Good Times Roll), 2) Tchoupitoulas (hint: Reggie Bush lives on this street), 3) Beignet (hint: it is something you MUST eat in the French Quarter), 4) Lagniappe (know what this word means; in most cases, it's a GOOD deal)!

* The NFL team was actually named the Saints because of the popular song as rendered by Louis Armstrong: When the Saints Go Marching In. The name Saints was selected over other recommended titles.

* Saints’ placekicker Tom Dempsey, whose 63-yd field goal helped the Saints defeat the Detroit Lions in Tulane Stadium (Nov 8, 1970), still owns the record for the longest field goal in NFL history (tied with the Broncos’ Jason Elam). Dempsey’s record kick was a major factor in the NFL’s later decision to move stadium field goal posts BACK 10 yds in the endzone.

* Speaking of field goals, four of of the Saints’ key landmark games were decided on field goals: 1) Tom Dempsey's record-setting field goal (on Nov 8, 1970) as time expired helped the Saints defeat the visiting Detroit Lions 19-17 (at Tulane Stadium). Lions' players lined up to defend the kick, but most were laughing at the line of scrimmage... until they watched the kick rocket off Dempsey's foot and through the uprights (video below). 2) In 1983, head coach O.A. (Bum) Phillips (with the 8-7 Saints up by 2 points, and on the verge of its’ FIRST WINNING SEASON AND PLAYOFF BERTH) decided to NOT allow kicker Morten Anderson try a 49-yd field goal, and instead punted to the Los Angeles Rams. Unfortunately, after receiving the punt, the Rams moved the ball down the field, allowing kicker Mike Lansford to kick a 42-yd game-winner with 0:02 seconds left. 3) During the last game of the 1990 season, the 7-8 Saints hosted the Los Angeles Rams with the LAST NFC Wildcard spot up for grabs. Morten Anderson kicked the game-winner as time expired to give the Saints their SECOND playoff appearance in franchise history. 4) This 2009 season, the Saints reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history after Garrett Hartley kicks the game-winner in overtime (vs. the Minnesota Vikings).

* The first (majority) owner of the Saints was John Mecom Jr. He held the position from the teams inaugural season (1967) through 1985. John Mecom was an oil tycoon, and his oil industry background led him to pick Saints’ team colors of Black and Gold (because oil is commonly referred to as: Black Gold).

* The Saints’ first head coach was Tom Fears, who coached the team from 1967 – 1970. A stint as Head Coach of the Saints usually spelled the end of a coach’s career. Only three former Saints’ head coaches went on to coach another NFL team: 1) Wade Phillips, 2) Jim Mora Sr., 3) Jim Haslett.

* The Saints’ current owner is Tom Benson, who is a New Orleans native. Co-owner and Saints Executive VP is Ms. Rita Benson Leblanc (Tom Benson’s granddaughter).

* The Saints’ first home stadium was Tulane Stadium (which seated over 80,000 fans). It was the home field of the college team: Tulane Green Wave. The Saints moved to the Louisiana Superdome in 1975. Yes, it’s true… the Superdome is built atop a site previously used as a cemetery. But be comforted in knowing that the former (human) remains were exhumed and relocated prior to the Superdome's construction.

* The Crunk song, played after each Saints score and prior to kicking off, was made by The Ying Yang Twins. This song was made in 2004, but became popular in the 2009 season. Consequently, the men have been endeared to the Saints’ fan base. Even though they appreciate the response by the Saints’ fans, the Ying Yang twins are honest and candid enough to admit that deep down they are Atlanta Falcons’ fans. Here’s a clip:

* One of the most COMPREHENSIVE books written about the New Orleans Saints is: The Saga of the Saints (written by the late New Orleans sportscaster: Wayne Mack). The ISBN for the book is: 0930892186. Many local Saints’ authorities who have reviewed this book consider it to be authoritative, entertaining, interesting, and factual.

* Two former Saints’ head coaches led other teams to Super Bowl victories. Ironically, both coaches’ teams won Super Bowls played in New Orleans: 1) the late Hank Stram (who coached the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl III… in Tulane Stadium) coached the Saints in 1976 & 1977, and 2) Mike Ditka (who coached the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX… in the Louisiana Superdome) coached the Saints from 1997-1999.

* The New Orleans Saints and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only two NFL teams to have its own (local) Hall of Fame museum (and enshrinement process).

* The Saints’ Public Address (PA) announcer’s name is: Jerry Romig. He has been the SOLE Saints’ PA announcer in the Superdome for 34 years. Jerry endeared himself to the Saints’ fan base during the Saints’ FIRST playoff appearance in 1987, when the team hosted the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card game. During a timeout near the end of the game, while the Vikings were pummeling the Saints 44-10, Jerry took the initiative to get on the PA system and announce: “Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s thank the New Orleans Saints for bringing us to the playoffs.” With that, a demoralized team and a greatly disappointed fan base… suddenly erupted in cheers and applause. Yes, they were blown out in the game, but Jerry turned that moment into appreciation when he reminded the home crowd that the Saints had accomplished something to be proud of: Its first appearance in the NFL playoffs.

* The linebacking corps of the Saints (during head coach Jim Mora’s tenure) was called the Dome Patrol. They consisted of Sam Mills, Vaughn Johnson, Ricky Jackson, and Pat Swilling. The Dome Patrol is considered by many to be the BEST linebacking corps of all time. This is mainly because they did not have a pro-bowl caliber defensive line or secondary to reinforce their efforts. The above-mentioned quartet was the ONLY linebacking corps (from the same team) in NFL history to selected to the same Pro Bowl game.

* How did Who Dat become associated with the Saints? No one's quite sure. Many think the phrase was first used by other local football teams such as Southern University. Several other schools in the area claim to have originally used Who Dat at games. By the mid-80s, the New Orleans Saints adopted the phrase and it has become an indelible part of the team's identity. The history of "Who Dat" extends far beyond football. The term may date back to the late 1800s when it was used in minstrel shows and vaudeville acts. The phrase later got picked up by jazz musicians. While the phrase may have originated with minstrel show skits that portrayed African-American in a negative light, the phrase managed to lose its stigma and become part of Louisiana vernacular. The term Who Dat Nation was coined by former Saints’ QB (and WWL Sports Broadcaster) Bobby Hebert. (Courtesy of Who Dat? - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

* Three Saints’ head coaches have garnered NFL Coach of the Year honors: 1) Jim Mora Sr./1987 season; 2) Jim Haslett/2000 season; 3) Sean Payton/2006 season.

* Former Pro Bowl QB Archie Manning (and wife, Olivia) raised their family in the New Orleans area. Their sons (Peyton, Eli and Cooper) attended Isidore Newman high school.

* Former Saints’ QB Aaron Brooks was the first player in NFL history to pass for 400 yds in a game and rush for 100 yds in a game …the same season.

Drew Brees set a single season NFL record for accuracy (pass completion) in 2009 with a 70.62% mark. This broke the prior NFL record of 70.55% set by former Bengals QB Ken Anderson in 1982. Take a look at this video, and you’ll be a believer:

Remember: The above information is NOT all-inclusive. But you should be able to extract a few nuggets to add spice to the articles you submit in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLIV. Who Dat!

21Hilliard 01-25-2010 05:49 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
* You have to know how to pronounce the following: 1) Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez (Let the Good Times Roll), 2) Tchoupitoulas (hint: Reggie Bush lives on this street), 3) Beignet (hint: it is something you MUST eat in the French Quarter)

You forgot to give them a pronunciation guide for this part. I ground my teeth every time Jimmy Johnson SCREWED "Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez" up. Jimmy, it's LAY-SAY not Lay-sez.

9thWardDesire 01-25-2010 05:51 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
This is a 100 % MUST READ!!

homerj07 01-25-2010 07:20 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
Good info - I did not realize some of the local stuff (Florida boy that I am)

homerj07 01-25-2010 07:30 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
OH -By the way awesome video about Drew's throwing.

RockyMountainSaint 01-25-2010 11:43 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
Thanks again Halo!

I never get tired of the Sports Science vid.

Should post it on Colts boards to give them something to think about!

QBREES9 01-25-2010 11:48 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
If you don't know the History Please read. If you do know the history please read.

Sports Science Vid AWESOME !!!

Halo 01-25-2010 11:48 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!

Originally Posted by RockyMountainSaint (Post 198633)
Thanks again Halo!

I never get tired of the Sports Science vid.

Should post it on Colts boards to give them something to think about!

Actually Bill Randall, long time Black & Gold writer wrote it! It's a pretty damn good piece.

I wish media types would read the wisdom within!

Danno 01-28-2010 01:25 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
Fascinating, thanks for posting.

skymike 01-28-2010 03:49 PM

Re: Reporting on the Super Bowl Bound Saints: Get the Facts Straight!
He forgot about Cooper Manning. dont want to be nitpickey, just think Cooper deserves love.

This is a must read for media types who will be doing lots of talking between now and feb 7.

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