Brother Martin’s Ken Bordelon happy for Will Clapp, other fellow area natives to play for Saints
It is rare when a born and raised local hero gets an opportunity to play for his hometown team.
In all, there are 23 players who are originally from the New Orleans area who have played for the New Orleans Saints in a regular season game in the 51-year history of the franchise. Should Will Clapp make the team this year, that number would expand to 24.
On the current Saints squad, Michael Mauti is one of those who comes to mind, the son of former New Orleans Saint Rich Mauti, who played for the Black and Gold from 1977-83. Michael played at Mandeville before leaving the state to play for Penn State. He joined the Saints in 2015.
Vincent Alexander played briefly for the Saints (one game) during the strike year of 1987. The former Covington star played college ball at Southern Miss.
Ashley Ambrose is a New Orleans native who played at Fortier before going to Mississippi Valley State. Ambrose played for the Saints in 1999 and again in 2003-04.
Brett Bech is a Slidell native who played at Slidell High before playing at LSU. He played for the Saints from 1996-99.
Delvin Breaux prepped at McDonogh 35, signed with LSU but did not play due to a serious neck injury before playing for the Saints in 2015-16.
New Orleans native Al Dodd played for West Jefferson High School and played at Northwestern State before playing three seasons for his hometown Saints from 1969-71.
Gill Fenerty is a New Orleans native who prepped at Jesuit before playing at Holy Cross College. He played for the Saints in 1990 and 1991.
John Fourcade grew up in Gretna before starring at Archbishop Shaw. He went to Ole Miss before getting an opportunity to play for the Saints from 1987-90.
Keith Fourcade grew up in Gretna before starring at Archbishop Shaw. The brother of John, Keith also played at Ole Miss and played briefly for the Saints during the NFL strike in 1987 in three games.
Talman Gardner is a New Orleans native who starred at McDonogh 35 before playing at Florida State. He played for the Saints in 2003-04.
Skyler Green, who prepped at Higgins and starred at LSU, played for the Saints in 2008 but he was actually born in Houma.
Michael Haynes is a New Orleans native who played at Clark and played college ball at Northern Arizona. Haynes played for the Saints from 1994-96.
Tyrone Hughes is a New Orleans native who starred at St. Augustine before playing college football at Nebraska. He was drafted by the Saints and played here from 1993-96, earning All-Pro honors. He was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2015.
Derek Lewis is a New Orleans native who attended Clark High School before playing at San Diego State. He played for the Saints in 2002-03.
Keenan Lewis is a New Orleans native who prepped at O. Perry Walker before playing college football at Oregon State. Lewis played for the Saints from 2013-15.
Michael Lewis is a New Orleans native who attended both Bonnabel and Grace King. He did not play college football and was a great story, becoming an All-Pro, playing for the Saints from 2001-06. He was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2015.
Kenner native Arthur Maulet played for Bonnabel High School before leaving to play college football at Memphis. He joined the New Orleans Saints in 2017.
Errol Linden is a New Orleans native who prepped at De La Salle and played college football at Houston before playing for the Saints in 1969 and 1970.
Louis Oubre is a New Orleans native who played at St. Augustine before starring at Oklahoma. He went on to play for the Saints from 1982-1984.
Rusty Rebowe is a Destrehan native who prepped at Destrehan before playing at Nicholls State. He was with the Saints in 1978.
Malcolm Scott is a New Orleans native who starred at St. Augustine and LSU playing briefly for the Saints in the strike season in 1967 in three games.
Dwight Walker is a Metairie native who played at East Jefferson and Nicholls State before coming to the Saints in 1987, playing in two games in the strike season.
Others, including Rusty Chambers, Bobby Hebert, Dalton Hilliard, Tom Hodson and Nicky Savoie, grew up in South Louisiana but were not from the New Orleans area. Michael Stonebreaker was born in Baltimore but went to John Curtis Christian before playing at Notre Dame. He played briefly for the Saints in 1994.
Then, there is the “Benson” connection.
Tom Benson was very fond, make that extremely fond of his ties to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.
Benson graduated from St. Aloysius High School in 1944. His ties to the school, which became Brother Martin via a merger with Cor Jesu in 1969, run deep. Benson would be very happy, smiling to know that a fellow Crusader is now a member of the New Orleans Saints organization.
Will Clapp graduated from Brother Martin in 2014, starring for the Crusaders. He went on to play at LSU from 2014-17. Clapp was drafted in the seventh round by the Saints most recently and is an underrated talent, a smart, versatile performer who can play center or guard. With the departure of Senio Kelemete, Clapp has a real shot to earn a roster spot in 2018 with a good training camp and preseason for New Orleans.
While Clapp carries the Brother Martin/St. Aloysius torch with Mr. Benson now departed, he is not the first to follow a completely similar path.
Kenny Bordelon is a New Orleans native who starred at Brother Martin, graduating in 1972. He won a state championship (1971) before starring at LSU, earning All-SEC honors and graduating in 1976. He came home to play for the Saints from 1976-82.
Bordelon had three interceptions, including a memorable pick of Ken Stabler which he returned 19 yards for a touchdown on Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 3, 1979. He played in 82 games for the Saints.
“I look back and 1979 was certainly a year that you will always remember, especially that Monday night game with the Raiders and Ken Stabler,” Bordelon said. “I have to give credit to Barry Bennett who disrupted the play. Stabler got a ball in the air, I was fortunate to catch it, hold onto it and stumble into the end zone. It was certainly a special moment but it was certainly a disappointing loss. You have to give credit to Stabler for brining them back. We were that close to the first winning season, going 8-8.”
Bordelon has lived in the New Orleans area since his playing days and has worked in the district attorney’s office for Jefferson Parish for several years now.
Initially, it did not appear that Bordelon would get a chance to play for the Saints.
“I was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1976 in the fifth round as a defensive end,” Bordelon said. “I spent a little time back there before they traded me to the Saints. The Rams had a couple of guys named Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer. They saw this little bow-legged Cajun from New Orleans and felt he was expendable.”
It did not take Bordelon long to leave one LA for another LA.
“I was dealt to the Saints before the start of the season,” Bordelon said. “Hank Stram called me and I was living in Baton Rouge at the time. He told me they were already in Vero Beach (FL) at the time. They were the first NFL to start training camp that year. I hopped on the first plane I could find and flew there the next day.”
It all happened in the blink of an eye.
“I was excited about coming home,” Bordelon said. “Being 21, I did not realize the impact it would have on me. In hindsight, it was the best thing personally and professionally for me. I would have been lost in the shuffle in Los Angeles, as a player and in the big city. Going through the NORD program and through Brother Martin, it meant a great deal to me. It was a real comfort level, honestly. I was very fortunate to play as long as I did.”
Unfortunately, the Saints never experienced a winning season in the six seasons he played for the Saints,
“We weren’t the most successful team but it was a wonderful time here,” Bordelon said. “Being home extended my career, for certain. I really believe that.”
Bordelon was gone from the NFL by the time Tom Benson bought and essentially saved the Saints for New Orleans in 1985.
“It means a lot that Mr. Benson, a Crusader, bought the Saints,” Bordelon said. “I was at Cor Jesu when we merged with St. Aloysius. Those four years in high school and with Coach Bobby Conlin had a huge impact on my life. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart helped shape me and prepare me for the difficult times in life and to help me succeed. I owe much of my success to them. I know Mr. Benson loved the school.”
Bordelon has watched with great pride as Benson and his wife, Gayle, have continuously given to his alma mater.
“Mr. Benson and his family have always been very generous to Brother Martin and to the New Orleans community,” Bordelon said. “Whenever you see that kind of giving, it brings a smile to your face. He was a remarkable man who did remarkable things for Brother Martin, New Orleans and the entire region.”
While it will not be easy to make the current roster, Will Clapp has a real shot to become the second New Orleans native from Brother Martin and LSU to become a New Orleans Saint.
“A kid like Will Clapp,’ you’ve got to pull for a kid like that.” Bordelon said. “He went to Brother Martin, our school and LSU, our school. His father was an outstanding player at Brother Martin and LSU. We want to see another Crusader as a Saint.”
Bordelon has watched Clapp progress with great interest.
“I have followed Will’s career,” Bordelon said. “I have met him on a couple of occasions. He seems like a very good young man and a very talented player. He has played every position on the offensive line. He is versatile and strong and I know he is motivated. He was very well liked and respected at LSU. You could always depend on him. He has a good shot at making the team, in my mind. He is a tough kid.”
Ultimately, staying at home and playing at home is a tremendous advantage and blessing.
“There is nothing like playing for your hometown team, the city you grew up in, the city you live in,” Bordelon said. “I’m sure all of the other guys who have done so feel that way. It was a privilege. It has been a wonderful thing seeing the Saints have such great success. I feel certain that will continue under Gayle. I’m a New Orleans fan through-and-through and wish nothing but great success to the team and Who Dat Nation moving forward.”
While Mr. Benson is no longer here in the flesh, he is here in spirit. He is smiling as his Brothers of the Sacred Heart ties to his beloved New Orleans Saints grows. You can rest assured that Tom is pulling for Clapp to make the team, along with everyone else.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…