Mills finally gets his Saints due while Swilling, Johnson, Finks, Mora are also deserving
We all know that Drew Brees is the transcendent player in New Orleans Saints history.
When Brees becomes eligible for the Saints Hall of Fame, he will be elected in unanimous fashion.
When the New Orleans Saints decide to place Brees in their Ring of Honor, it will cap his brilliant career in New Orleans.
Of course, Brees continues to give back, investing in New Orleans and the region through various business ventures.
There are other Super Bowl era New Orleans Saints players and personnel who will clearly deserve to be part of both the Saints Hall of Fame.
There are some of those who clearly deserve to be in the Saints Ring of Honor, including Gayle Benson, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis.
From a player perspective, Jahri Evans clearly deserves that honor as well one day. Evans is going into the Saints Hall of Fame on Nov. 5.
You can certainly make the case for the all-time leading rusher and all-time leading receiver, respectively, in Deuce McAllister and Marques Colston.
There are others worthy of consideration as well.
Meanwhile, the Ring of Honor finally addressed a glaring omission in Sam Mills.
A finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame most recently, Mills has a statue outside of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, a place he played for all of three seasons. Mill eventually coached with the Panthers as well.
Mills played for the Saints for nine seasons in brilliant fashion, as the defensive captain and leader of the defense and team, a defense that was best in the NFL on more than one occasion and as part of a linebacker group that was voted the very best in NFL history.
At one point, Mills had a banner hanging from the rafters of what is now Caesars Superdome.
That banner, along with those of Archie Manning, Pete Maravich, Rickey Jackson, Dave Dixon and Eddie Robinson disappeared in one of the renovations of the building.
As the saying goes, all is well that ends well.
That Mills will finally join in the team’s Ring of Honor this season is a good thing, though it was overdue. Make that long overdue.
Jackson, the most significant defensive player in franchise history and one of the two most significant players in team history, along with Brees, is already honored in the Ring of Honor.
Now, there is the matter of addressing the other two members of “The Dome Patrol.”
Pat Swilling was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time first-team All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowl player in New Orleans for teams that reached the playoffs four times, the first four playoff appearances in franchise history. Swilling did it over a seven-year stint. He is part of the elite club with over 100 sacks for a career (107.5). Swilling is in the Saints Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
Vaughan Johnson was a four-time Pro Bowl player in New Orleans. He was simply brilliant and physical, a force inside. Like Swilling, Johnson was part of the first four playoff appearances in franchise history and like Swilling, Johnson is part of the Saints Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. Johnson played for the Saints for eight seasons.
Then, there is the matter of the leaders of those teams that gave New Orleans its first winner and a consistent winner.
Jim Finks was universally respected in NFL circles and nearly became NFL Commissioner. Finks hired Jim Mora and the duo did a superb job of changing a team, changing a culture and changing a fan base and expectations in New Orleans.
Finks is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Saints Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
Mora earned NFL Coach of the Year honors in 1987. He presided over those four playoff teams and retired with the most wins in franchise history before Payton surpassed him. Mora remains close to the franchise as an analyst for WDSU-TV.
Mora is in the Saints Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
Mills was one of the finest people I have enjoyed the pleasure of covering and knowing. We lost him way too early, back in 2005.
Johnson was one of the finest people I have enjoyed the pleasure of covering and knowing. We lost him too early, back in 2019.
Finks was a gentleman who did an outstanding job in New Orleans and was very cooperative with the media.
Mora was a strict, attention-to-detail coach who brought discipline and consistency to the Saints while being combative with the media. Now, he is a member of that entity, which we have joked about.
Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints organization for recognizing the brilliance of Mills. Here’s hoping the others from a previous regime have their day as well.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE 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 Sports Media Association, National Football…