Established in 1967, the New Orleans Saints’ history is filled with a long list of ups and downs, from their 20-year playoff drought to start their franchise to their Super Bowl win over Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2009. No matter how you analyze their past, there is no doubt that they have been fortunate to have some incredible players to don the black and gold.
This article will take a journey back in time, revisiting the gridirons that have witnessed the extraordinary talent, grit, and determination of some of the most remarkable players in New Orleans Saints history. From quarterbacks with lightning-fast decision-making skills to wide receivers with uncanny catching abilities and linebackers known for their formidable defense – we’ll be spotlighting those Saints athletes whose performances have left an indelible mark on the franchise and fanbase alike.
Drew Brees (2006-2020)
The name Drew Brees is synonymous with the golden era of the Saints. Joining the roster in 2006 after starting his career with the San Diego Chargers, his arrival marked a significant turning point for the franchise, steering the team towards their first Super Bowl championship. Brees was selected to 11 Pro Bowls and won the AP Offensive Player of the Year Award twice.
Brees was not just a quarterback; he was a game-changer. His ability to read the field and deliver accurate passes under pressure was nothing short of remarkable. His impressive career in New Orleans spanned 15 seasons, during which he shattered numerous passing records, earning him a well-deserved spot among the all-time NFL greats. A surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2026, Brees leaves behind a legacy of electric performances and record-breaking numbers people will celebrate for years to come. He is definitely the reason why the New Orleans Saints odds were always in their favor.
Rickey Jackson (1981-1993)
Jackson, fondly known as “The Hammer,” was a force to reckon with from 1981 to 1993. This linebacker was not just a player; he was an unstoppable phenomenon that would make his opponents rethink their game plans. Jackson, hailed by his teammate Pat Swilling, was the stalwart of the Saints’ defense, the one everyone looked to when a play needed to be made. With five All-Pro Awards and six Pro Bowl Honors to his name, Jackson’s impact was not only felt but also acknowledged at the highest level.
A testament to his prowess, Jackson led the NFL in forced fumbles four times and holds the record for the most sacks in Saints history. Though he later became a Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, Jackson’s contribution to the Saints has been honorably acknowledged by his induction into the Saints’ Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor. His legacy is one of relentless determination and unmatchable talent, making him an unforgettable legend of the game.
Willie Roaf (1993-2001)
Fondly referred to as “Nasty,” Roaf was an irrefutable cornerstone of the Saints offensive line from 1993 to 2001. Standing at a towering 6’5” and weighing in at a formidable 320 pounds, he was a nearly insurmountable presence on the field. His ability to masterfully block passes and pave the way for running backs was nothing short of astonishing.
Over his 14-season NFL career, Roaf dominated opposing defenders and amassed a remarkable list of accolades. A nine-time All-Pro Award winner and an 11-time Pro Bowler, Roaf was admired and respected by fans, players, and coaches alike. He holds the honor of being named to the NFL All-Decade Team for both the 1990s and 2000s, and he is a proud member of both the Saints’ Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Marques Colston (2006-2015)
Colston, known as the “Quiet Storm,” had a sterling stint as a wide receiver with the New Orleans Saints during their ascension under Sean Payton. He hailed from a small school (Hofstra), but his career was anything but small-scale. Colston holds the illustrious position as the Saints’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, an impressive testament to his skill and consistency. He played a significant role in helping the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV, where he caught seven passes for 83 yards in their 31-17 win over the Colts.
A champion and a revered figure in the Saints’ Hall of Fame, he was praised by former NFL coach Jon Gruden as the greatest player in NFL history to never be elected to a Pro Bowl. Distinct from the archetypical attention-seeking wide receiver, Colston was renowned as a consummate professional, held in high regard for his talent and demeanor. His contribution to the team was instrumental, setting high standards for wide receivers and leaving a lasting legacy that the Saints celebrate to this day.
Jahri Evans (2006-2016)
Evans, a guard who plied his trade for the Saints predominantly from 2006 to 2016, was an unheralded gem hailing from a small school (Bloomsburg). Despite his low-profile beginnings, Evans proved his mettle as one of the NFL’s most versatile and consistent performers, exhibiting impressive prowess in both interior pass blocking and second-level run blocking. His toughness, speed, and resilience on the field were unparalleled, earning him numerous All-Pro awards and Pro Bowl nominations, culminating in a resounding Super Bowl title in 2009.
What sets Evans apart is his remarkable record of starting every game he played, a testament to his durability and commitment. A cherished member of the Saints’ Hall of Fame, Evans’ invaluable contributions to the team have left an enduring legacy that continues to inspire. With his blend of skill, passion, and dedication, Evans’ enshrinement in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton seems all but inevitable.