Saints Hall of Fame inductee La’Roi Glover lending expertise to current team
It is safe to say that La’Roi Glover overcame odds.
The proverbial deck appeared to stacked against him from the start as he tried to enter the NFL.
The Oakland Raiders drafted Glover in the fifth round of the 1996 draft out of San Diego State. Glover played in just two games in his rookie season, was assigned to NFL Europe and the Barcelona Dragons, played well and his team won a World Bowl championship.
Still, that did not impress the Raiders, who cut him.
That was a great benefit to the Saints, who made one of the best decisions of the flawed, failed regime of Mike Ditka by signing Glover.
Under Ditka from 1997-99, Glover was in on 162 tackles, including 25 sacks.
Ditka was dismissed after the 1999 season and Jim Haslett took over.
The Saints signed Norman Hand, a space-eating player who occupied blockers and double teams, freeing up Glover to utilize his vast quickness and strength. The move paid off.
With the Saints, Glover blossomed, becoming one of the top pass-rushing defensive tackles in the league.
In the process of becoming that player, Glover led the way for New Orleans in 2000, leading the NFL in sacks with 17 among his 66 tackles in a brilliant season as the Saints enjoyed their most significant season to date, winning the first playoff game in franchise history. Glover also forced three fumbles and recovered a fumble in earning All-Pro honors.
That playoff win came against the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams 31-28 in the Wild Card round of the postseason.
In 2001, Glover was a productive player again, recording 47 tackles, including eight sacks with three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. That earned Glover Pro Bowl honors.
Then, the Saints allowed Glover to test the free agent market and he did not last long as Dallas pounced on him, signing him.
Glover’s productivity was missed greatly in New Orleans.
His production was solid in Dallas, where he played four seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors in all four years he played. Glover finished his career with three seasons with the St. Louis Rams.
In five seasons with the Saints, Glover earned All-Pro honors twice, finishing with 50 sacks. He was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2013.
Glover joined me on All Access on NASH ICON 106.1 FM recently.
“There are some very fond memories of my playing days here,” Glover said. “It’s just phenomenal to be back. I had a great experience in New Orleans. “It’s a little bit more special now because it’s an opportunity to coach, to be around players and more specifically it’s an opportunity to do it here at home with the New Orleans Saints.”
At 6-foot-2, 285 pounds as a player, Glover constantly had to overcome the moniker of being a smaller defensive tackle.
“Scouts always focus on size and are going to look at various measurables,” Glover said. “Everybody likes big, strong and fast for the defensive tackle position. There are other intangibles. You have to look at quickness. You have to look at play-making ability. You have to look at motor. When you combine all of those things, ultimately, hopefully, what an organization is looking for is a guy to come in and do his job, play hard and make a lot of plays. I was able to do that.”
As a high school wrestler, Glover carried over some tricks of the trade which helped him in the NFL.
“That background in wrestling helped significantly,” Glover said. “It was incredible. One thing you do is you learn how to work. You’re training hard, it’s all one-on-one. The best man wins. Lastly, I learned leverage, how to use someone else’s body and strength against them. That’s what wrestling is all about.”
It took Glover 22 years to return but he is back with the Saints, serving as this year’s Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellow in training camp and in the preseason.
The Saints are fortunate to have Glover and his knowledge to impart to their defensive line, particularly the younger players.
Glover wants to coach in the NFL on a regular basis. He should get that opportunity.
Glover was the defensive line coach of the XFL St. Louis Battlehawks earlier this year. He previously served as assistant defensive line coach for the New York Jets and Los Angeles Chargers.
The current Saints have added key pieces to their defense, which dealt with injuries in a bit of a disappointing season a year ago. Glover likes what he sees, focusing on the defensive tackle spot.
“This is a phenomenal defense with some great young players,” Glover said. “I’m just kind of humbles and honored to be able to share what I know. Bryan Bresee has come in as a first-round pick with a lot of high expectations. We’re trying to help him realize those expectations if not exceed them. He is quick for his size. Bringing in a guy like Shepherd, who was with the Jets, he has quickness and strength at the point of attack. As a group, the defensive tackles will work hard for you as a group and do what you ask of them. They are all about winning. I’m very excited to work with them.”
What challenges await Bresee as a rookie at a tough spot to make your mark early in the league?
“He has all the physical tools that you like,” Glover said. “He has the size that you like at the position. He has the pedigree, coming from a school like Clemson where they put out a lot of good defensive linemen. Now, it’s all about mentally. Can you learn to play at this level? Can you learn the scheme? Can you learn how to fit in with the rest of your compadres on the defensive front. I think he’s doing a very good job of that.”
Glover feels there is quality and quantity with the defensive line as a whole.
“We’re very happy with the depth that we have now,” Glover said. “Some of those guys can really step up and make some plays and help this defense be more successful. Now, it’s about trying to develop these guys. First things first. We’ve got to learn the scheme, we’ve got to learn the playbook. Second, they’ve got to get on the field and get a lot of reps. We need a lot of work with these guys.”
While the present finds Glover imparting his knowledge to Saints players, the past will always harken back to that special year.
“That 2000 season was a remarkable season with remarkable memories,” Glover said. “You can never expect that coming into the NFL that you have the opportunity to get 17 sacks in one season. It did happen because of a lot of hard work and a lot of great teammates and a lot of good coaching.”
Glover paid homage to those who came before him in the black and gold, connecting the past to the present.
“It’s great to be back,” Glover said. “It’s fun being a member of the Saints again. It started with the Dome Patrol. We carried on and continue to carry on the legacy those men (Rickey Jackson, Vaughan Johnson, Sam Mills, Pat Swilling) were able to create. This is something (coaching) that I can see myself making a career out of.”
Here’s hoping that the Saints wrestle with the idea of keeping Glover around beyond the preseason and that Glover does not wrestle his way out of New Orleans, where he fits incredibly 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…