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Top 10 New Orleans pro athletes in history
New Orleans pro athletes
I have lived in New Orleans and followed sports here my whole life. When anyone talks about pro sports in New Orleans, it's a pretty safe bet that the Saints are the topic of conversation. But our tradition of pro sports is far richer than just NFL football. ABA and NBA basketball, as well as nearly 100 years of minor league baseball, are just a few of the pro sports that have called New Orleans home. As such, many outstanding pro athletes have competed in New Orleans at some point during their careers. Take a look back at the top 10 New Orleans pro athletes in history.
10. Joe Horn: Saints (2000-2006)
Unfortunately, most NFL fans only remember Joe Horn for the cell phone incident. But Horn is perhaps the greatest WR in Saints history. His 50 receiving TDs are most in team history. Although he trails Eric Martin by a slim margin in catches and yards, Horn played in 41 fewer Saints games than Martin. Joe Horn made four Pro Bowls and is in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
9. Morten Andersen: Saints (1982-1994)
It may seem strange to see a kicker on this list of athletes. But there is no denying how great Morten Andersen was while playing for the Saints. He is the franchise leader in FGs made by a margin of 134 and is the team leader in total points with 1,318; a whopping 550 more than his closest competitor, John Carney. As a Saint, Morten Andersen made six Pro Bowls, was a two-time first team All-Pro and is in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
8. Bob Lemon: Pelicans (1939)
For over 60 years, the New Orleans Pelicans were a minor league baseball team in the now defunct Southern Association. Eventually reaching AA status, some of the legends of the game played briefly in New Orleans. In 1939, Bob Lemon was an outfielder for the Pelicans and hit .309. However, Lemon later moved to the mound and went 207-128 for the Cleveland Indians and was later enshrined in the MLB Hall of Fame.
7. Deuce McAllister: Saints (2001-2008)
Dulymus Jenod "Deuce" McAllister may be the most popular athlete in Saints history. In fact, my coworker's nephew "McAllister" is named after Deuce. When Sean Payton signed McAllister to the roster for the playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals, people in New Orleans were in ecstasy. McAllister is the New Orleans Saints leader in career rushing yards (6,096) and rushing TDs (49). Deuce McAllister also made two Pro Bowl squads.
6. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson: Pelicans (1910)
Yes, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson played in New Orleans. From 1908-1910, Jackson bounced up and down from the majors to the minors. One of those minor league teams was the Pelicans in 1910. For New Orleans, Jackson hit .354 with 18 doubles, 19 triples and two homeruns. In the majors, Jackson was one of the greatest athletes in MLB history, before being banned for his alleged involvement in the infamous "Black Sox" scandal.
5. Rickey Jackson: Saints (1981-1993)
2010 was the greatest year in New Orleans pro sports history. Not only did the Saints win the Super Bowl, but the first Saint was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Rickey Jackson was the best member of the best linebacking corps, the "Dome Patrol," in NFL history. Rickey Jackson is the Saints career sacks leader with 115, made six Pro Bowls and is also in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
4. Willie Roaf: Saints (1993-2001)
How great of an athlete was Willie Roaf? The New Orleans Saints were willing to break up the "Dome Patrol" to move up in the draft to select Roaf. A soft-spoken, yet fearsome giant, Roaf played mostly left tackle for the Saints for nine years. During that time, Roaf represented New Orleans in the Pro Bowl seven times. Willie Roaf was also a two-time first team All-Pro and is in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
Despite being a fanatical football town, two of the top three pro athletes in New Orleans history are basketball players. In 2005, while New Orleans was recovering from Hurricane Katrina, Chris Paul quietly began his NBA career in Oklahoma City. Within just a couple of years, Paul was recognized as the best point guard in the NBA. Chris Paul is already a four-time All-Star and is the NBA active leader in assists per game with 9.9.
2. Pete Maravich: Jazz (1974-1979)
"Pistol" Pete Maravich is one of the greatest pro basketball players in NBA history. The former star from LSU joined the Jazz in 1974 when New Orleans was awarded an NBA franchise. Maravich's finest pro season was 1976-77 when he led the NBA with 31.1 points per game. From 1977 to 1979, Maravich was selected to every NBA All-Star game. Pete Maravich is in the Basketball Hall of Fame and his #7 jersey is retired by both the Jazz and Hornets.
1. Drew Brees: Saints (2006-present)
While Deuce McAllister may be the most popular Saint in history, there is no debate as to who the greatest pro athlete in New Orleans history is. After suffering a career-threatening shoulder injury with the San Diego Chargers, Drew Brees came to New Orleans as a free agent and eventually led the Saints to the Promised Land. Brees is already the Saints career leader in completions (2,020), completion percentage (67%), passing yards (22,918) and TDs (155). Drew Brees has made four Pro Bowl squads as a Saint and was a first-team All-Pro in 2006.
Honorable Mention New Orleans pro athletes
The following outstanding athletes have also played pro sports in New Orleans: Danny Abramowicz (Saints), Lance Berkman (Zephyrs), Marques Colston (Saints), Gail Goodrich (Jazz), Bobby Hebert (Saints), Vaughan Johnson (Saints), Archie Manning (Saints), Sam Mills (Saints), Roy Oswalt (Zephyrs), Pat Swilling (Saints), David West(notes) (Hornets) and Dazzy Vance (Pelicans).
"Joe Horn," pro-football-reference.com
"Morten Andersen," pro-football-reference.com
"Bob Lemon," baseball-reference.com
"Deuce McAllister," pro-football-reference.com
"Joe Jackson," baseball-reference.com
"Rickey Jackson," pro-football-reference.com
"Willie Roaf," pro-football-reference.com
"Chris Paul," basketball-reference.com
"Pete Maravich," basketball-reference.com
"Drew Brees," pro-football-reference.com
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