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whodatsaintsfan26 09-05-2004 11:27 PM

If you need a good laugh
From CNN/SI. A little something to remind us of the bad times, bad coaches, and bad decisions:
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Saints celebrate

New Orleans gets the player it wanted in Williams
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Posted: Saturday April 17, 1999 07:32 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Mike Ditka wasn't just blowing smoke.

From the very start, the New Orleans Saints coach had wanted Ricky Williams, and on Saturday he traded away just about everything short of Bourbon Street to get him.

Once he got the Heisman Trophy winner, Ditka pumped his fists, broke out into a big grin, fired up a huge cigar, and sang a little ditty about going out to play golf.

"It was meant to be, it was ordained," Ditka enthused after a last- second deal with Washington allowed him to pick the player he believes will turn the Saints into winners.

New Orleans switched first-round picks with the Redskins, moving from 12th overall to No. 5, and gave them their other five selections this year in rounds 3-7, and a No. 1 and No. 3 next year to get Williams.

In his yellow Hawaiian shirt with a picture of a pitcher of margaritas and a filled cocktail glass on the back, Ditka slapped backs, joked with owner Tom Benson, and puffed a giant LaUnica cigar, eight inches long and two inches in diameter.

"I said from Day 1 he was the player we wanted," Ditka said. "We did the thing we thought would make us best, fastest."

"He gives us what Walter Payton gave us in Chicago."

Not everyone agreed with Ditka's strategy.

"We're all different," said Mike Holmgren, coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. "Look at the shirt that Mike Ditka was wearing. I didn't want to trade all my picks and go home."

Ditka dismissed speculation that he should have picked a quarterback to replace Billy Joe Hobert, Billy Joe Tolliver or Danny Wuerffel. He said he has confidence in Hobert as the starter.

"If he hadn't blown out his tendon in the first game last year, I think we would have gone to the playoffs last season," he said.

The Saints had been trying to work out a deal that would allow them to move up from the No. 12 pick in the first round so they could take the former Texas back. On Saturday, New Orleans tried to entice Cincinnati to part with the No. 3 pick, offering them all of this years picks, No. 1s in 2000 and 2001, and a No. 2 in 2002.

Unable to make that deal, they offered Indianapolis all this year's picks, a No. 2 and No. 3 next year, a No. 1 in 2001, and cornerback Alex Molden, the No. 1 pick in 1996.

After the Colts traded Marshall Faulk, Saints officials were convinced Indianapolis would take Williams. When the Colts chose Edgerrin James and New Orleans struck the deal with the Redskins, the celebration began.

Benson sent his private jet to New York to pick up Williams for a dinner date with Ditka, Benson and other team officials.

Fans at the Saints camp celebrated the pick, unconcerned at the heavy price paid for Williams.

"I think it's a stroke of genius," said Joseph LeBlanc, 67, of Slidell, La. "What do I care about the future? At my age, I'm just hoping they'll win before I die, and if Ricky Williams will do that, praise God."

The Saints have only five winning seasons in 32 years, the last in 1992. Last season, New Orleans ranked 28th in the NFL in offense and was last in rushing the football.

"This is the most exciting thing that ever happened to me as far as getting a player," Ditka said. "This is the best thing to happen to the New Orleans Saints ever."

Fans agreed.

"I feel like singing `When The Saints Go Marching In,'" said season ticket holder Clarence Powell, 57, as he ate crawfish and watched the draft. "This is a big step, a big step. If the coach says this is what will get us to the Super Bowl, I believe him."

New Orleans planned to have Williams available Sunday to sign autographs in the tent next to the table selling season tickets, which just went up in price last week.

"This will make everybody forget about the price hike," said Rome Lytton, 42, an 18-year ticket holder. "I think this will probably a winning season now, and that makes you forget all of the bad things."

themightyduck 09-05-2004 11:42 PM

If you need a good laugh
And that was only 5 years ago...

That just proved what was wrong with Mike Ditka. He didn\'t care.

CheramieIII 09-06-2004 10:37 AM

If you need a good laugh
When Tricky came out in wedding dress it made you wonder, if Ditka gave up the Saint\'s future to have a honeymoon with Tricky.

whodatsaintsfan26 09-06-2004 11:12 AM

If you need a good laugh
After whats happened with ricky you have to wonder what was in that 8 inch cigar

CheramieIII 09-06-2004 01:01 PM

If you need a good laugh
You know what was in it, some stuff man, because he\'s obviously still smokin it.

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