Choosing the New Orleans Saints “All Halo” team
All Saints’ Day every November 1 is a celebrated tradition in the Crescent City where families commemorate and honor those who have gone before them, while celebrating the announcement of the arrival of the town’s pro football franchise on that date back in 1966.
I recently watched the classic Heaven Can Wait, a 1978 film that was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture. Starring Warren Beatty who plays an aging quarterback given a second chance at life, he leads the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl.
As the flick concluded, I stumbled to bed and a split second later fell into a deep slumber, an ideal dream state. A vivid dream began with a setting in a downtown high-rise building somewhere behind the Pearly Gates.
Former New Orleans General Manager Jim Finks, a member of the Saints Hall of Fame, is sitting at his desk. His phone rings on his desk. The voice on the other end identifies himself as St. Peter, the Commissioner of the All Heavenly League. He instructs Finks to assemble a squad consisting of the best New Orleans Saints players who have joined him in the heavenly surroundings. Finks rubs out a nearly completed cigarette from his second pack of the day, adjusts his glasses and gets down to work.
Tasked with building Heaven’s most competitive Saints roster (call it the All Halo Saints team), he came up with this finished product.
Ken “The Snake” Stabler (1982-’84) 3 seasons in 25 games produced 3,670 yards and 17 touchdowns. The NFL’s MVP in 1974 played for New Orleans in his final NFL stop. He retired at age 39.
Chuck Muncie (1976-’80) 5th all time best runner in franchise history with 3,393 yards and 28 scores and 11th as a receiver among backs in franchise history.
Craig “Ironhead” Heyward (1998-’92) 1st round pick in 1988 made the Pro Bowl in 1993 with Atlanta. Compiled 1,813 yards and 13 TD’s with Saints.
Hokie Gajan (1982-’85) managed 1,358 yards and 13 touchdowns before a knee injury shortened his career. In the same 1984 season that Eric Dickerson set a new NFL single season rushing record (2,105 yards), Hokie led all NFL runners with 100 or more carries in yars per rush at 6.03. He remains one of 19 NFL backs in league history to exceed 6.0 yards per carry in a single season.
Henry Childs (1974-’80) is still 20th in receiving yards in team history, playing 87 games with 207 catches, 3,224 yards and 27 touchdowns. Trailing only tight ends Hoby Brenner and Jimmy Graham in franchise history in receving yardage, Childs was a primary target for Archie Manning.
Dave Parks (1968-’72) played both receiver and tight end for New Orleans over 63 games and produced 149 grabs, 1,971 yards and 16 touchdowns. Twice named 1st team All Pro with the 49ers, he led the NFL in receiving in 1965 with 80 catches for 1,344 yards, 12 touchdowns in a 14 game schedule.
Bob Newland (1971-’74) spent 56 games wearing the Fleur de Lis and had 124 catches for 1,877 yards and eight scores. A 7th round pick in 1971, he brought speed to the team’s passing attack.
Al Dodd (1969-’71) played in 38 contests and accumulated 80 catches for 1,382 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was instrumental as a return specialist. His catch in 1970 against the Detroit Lions was vital in setting up Tom Demspsey’s record-setting 63-yard field goal.
Errol Linden (1969-’70) played 134 NFL games with 28 starts at right tackle for Saints. The native New Orleanian attended De La Salle.
Joe Wendryhoski (1967-’68) made 28 starts for early Saints teams at center and was named a team captain.
John Hill (1975-’84), a Saints Hall of Famer and a member of the team’s 25th, 40th and 50th anniversary teams, is also Lehigh Hall of Fame member. In 134 starts with Saints, he lined up alongside Emanuel Zanders, Conrad Dobler, Brad Edelman, Louis Oubre and Steve Korte.
Steve Trapilo (1987-’92) made 52 starts at right guard alongside Saints Hall of Fame right tackle Stan Brock.
Del Williams (1967-’73), one of the original Saints, made 87 starts at right guard.
Tom Dempsey (1969-’70), a Saints Hall of Famer, hit that 63-yard kick in 1970 that remained an NFL record for decades. In 28 games for the Saints, he converted 40 field goals and 94.2% of his extra point tries.
Punter: Ron Widby (1967), a 4th round pick in ’67, averaged 43.8 yards per punt as a senior at Tennessee. An outstanding athlete who also played basketball for the Vols averaging 22.1 points and 8.7 rebounds, he was named SEC Player of the Year in 1967. While with the Saints, he also spent one season with the ABA’s New Orleans Buccaneers. He later punted for the Dallas Cowboys (1967-’71) where he memorably surrendered his jersey #12 in 1969 to a new arrival, a guy named Roger Staubach.
Doug Atkins (1967-69), a Saints Hall of Famer, managed 30 of his 94.5 career sacks while with Saints. He played 205 NFL games over 17 seasons. As a-39 year old defensive end, he hurdled the Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle and sacked quarterback Dick Shiner on his final NFL snap.
Derland Moore (1973-’85), a Saints Hall of Famer, made the 1983 Pro Bowl. He was also the NFL Arm Wrestling Champion 1983 and 1984. In 170 games with the Black and Gold with 146 starting assignments, Moore had 48 sacks. He was chosen for the Saints’ 40th and 50th anniversary teams.
Will Smith (2004-’13), a Saints Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor member, made 459 career tackles, 67.5 sacks and 25 pass deflections in 139 games.
Frank Warren (1987-’94), a Saints Hall of Famer, played 189 games with 52.5 sacks and 11 fumbles recovered. He was voted as Saints’ Ed Block Award recipient in 1993.
Norm “Big Wiggle” Hand (2000-’02) played 45 games in New Orleans with 31 starts and ontributed 129 stops along with nine sacks. The leader of the “Heavy Lunch Bunch” consisting of Hand, Martin Chase and Grady Jackson, Hand was a mountain in the middle of the defensive front.
Mike Tilleman (1967-’70) played threeseasons with Saints, lining up next to Doug Atkins to give opponents an imposing look – Atkins (6-8, 285) and Tilleman (6-7, 272). “Tilly” had 17 sacks over 11 seasons in the NFL, playing 149 total games with 137 starts.
Vaughn Johnson (1986-’93), a Saints Hall of Famer, famously played alongside Sam Mills at inside linebacker in the Dome Patrol, making 98 starts, 664 career tackles, 12 sacks. He was selected to four Pro Bowls.
Sam Mills (1986-’94) was an undisputed captain, Saints Hall of Famer and member of the Ring of Honor. Carolina retired jersey #51. Mills was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As a Saint, he made 934 career tackles, 10.5 sacks and three interceptions while his overall NFL career produced 1,265 stops, 20.5 sacks and 11 interceptions. Four out of his nine seasons in Black and Gold, Mills recorded at least 100 tackles.
Steve Stonebreaker (1967-’68) was “The Enforcer” of the first Saints defensive unit. The 6-foot-3, 235 pounder was a converted tight end with Vikings who made 11 starts with the Saints.
Dave “Weasel” Whitsell (1967-’69), a Saints Hall of Famer, was the franchise’s first Pro Bowl selection (1967) when he led the NFL with 10 interceptions. He played 12 seasons over 161 games as a pro. In 1963, he helped the Bears win an NFL title. In 38 starts in New Orleans, he made 19 of his 46 career picks.
Dave Waymer (1980-’89), a Saints Hall of Famer, is the franchise’s interception leader with 37.
Russell Gary (1981-’86), like Waymer, was a second round pick. He made 58 starts with seven interceptions and 4.0 sacks.
Obert Logan (1967) played 13 games with 3 interceptions for the Saints. Called “Little O,” Logan spent two years with the Cowboys.
Hugo Hollas (1970-’72) made 31 starts with 11 interceptions and 2.0 sacks for New Orleans. The 6-1, 190-pound safety wore #18 and was the reason Archie Manning opted for #8 rather than his Ole Miss number when he arrived.
Bivian Lee (1971-’75) played 65 games with 33 starts here. With his great size (6-3, 200) for a defensive back, he recorded nine interceptions.
It was a heckuva dream and a helluva team.
Happy All Saints’ Day.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to play football at LSU, developing a passion for the game in even greater fashion while in…