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The National Football League awarded its 16th franchise to New Orleans on November 1, 1966. Appropriately, it was All Saints Day. In mid-December, 28-year-old John W. Mecom Jr., a successful Texas and Louisiana businessman, became the majority stockholder. Less than a month later on January 9, 1967, no one was surprised when the team was named the "Saints."New Orleans Saints, professional football team and one of four teams in the Southern Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The Saints play at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, and wear uniforms of gold, black, and white. The team is named after the Dixieland classic and team fight song, “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.”

The Saints joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1967. The new club struggled for many years, employing six head coaches, posting 12 consecutive losing records, and averaging only four wins per season from 1967 to 1978. The team’s leader during much of this time was quarterback Archie Manning, who won the NFL player of the year award in 1978. The greatest moment in Saints history came on November 8, 1970, when New Orleans kicker Tom Dempsey sealed a 19-17 upset of the Detroit Lions with a 63-yard field goal—the longest in NFL history.

The Saints began playing in the Superdome in 1975, and four years later they recorded their first non-losing mark, finishing with an 8-8 win-loss record under head coach Dick Nolan. The team’s woes continued during the 1980s, however, and New Orleans was never able to compile more than 8 wins in a season.

Under head coach Jim Mora, the Saints achieved their first winning record and their first playoff appearance in 1987. A former defensive coodinator for the New England Patriots, Mora was named NFL coach of the year. Running back Rueben Mayes, the 1986 rookie of the year, and wide receiver Eric Martin, a three-time 1,000-yard gainer, anchored the NFC’s second-best offense.

Mora steered the Saints to three consecutive trips to the postseason from 1990 to 1992. New Orleans assembled the NFC’s toughest defense in 1990 and 1991, led by one of the best linebacker units in the league. In 1992 linebackers Rickey Jackson, Vaughn Johnson, Sam Mills, and Pat Swilling all played in the Pro Bowl, and the Saints led the league in quarterback sacks. Despite its tenacious defense, the team lost in the first round each time it made the playoffs. At the end of the 1996 season, former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka replaced Mora. Ditka was fired after the 1999 season. In 2000, former NFL linebacker and long-time assistant Jim Haslett was hired as the new head coach.

The New Orleans Saints have never played in the Super Bowl.


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