What are the worst moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. River City Relay
Almost one of the best moments in franchise history, but alas …
Trailing the Jaguars 20-13 with just seven seconds to go, standing on their own 25-yard line, and with a potential playoff spot on the line, the Saints needed a miracle. What happened next was exactly that: Aaron Brooks hits Donte Stallworth at the Jags 47, and from there it’s all Cal Bears vs. Stanford. Three laterals later, Jerome Pathon somehow finds an open field and dives into the end zone. All that was needed to send the game into overtime and keep the Saints slim playoff hopes alive was a John Carney extra point. Now, this was in 2003, so the extra point is still just a 25-yard chip shot … that Carney shanked wide right. 20-19, Saints officially eliminated from the playoffs (though it turned out it wouldn’t have matter anyway), thanks for playing.
4. Minneapolis Miracle
The victory was theirs. A trip to the NFC championship game was in the bag. All that stood between the Saints and a win over the Minnesota Vikings (and a trip to Philadelphia) was 10 measly seconds. There was no way the Vikings, trailing by a point and stranded at their own 39-yard-line, were getting into field goal range and getting out of bounds in time to stop the clock. Not with Case Keenum throwing the ball. And they didn’t get in field goal range. They scored a freaking walk-off touchdown. Sixty-one yards, Keenum to Stefon Diggs, who caught a desperation heave at the Saints’ 34 — a 51-yard field goal from there — had the good fortune of rookie safety Marcus Williams whiffing on the tackle attempt and waltzed in from there untouched to hand the Saints an improbable defeat. Given the Vikings had no timeouts, all Williams needed to do was tackle Diggs in bounds. Do that, Saints win. But that’s not how it turned out. And as the New Orleans Times Picayune put it on the front page of the Monday morning paper, “EXPLETIVE, EXPLETIVE, EXPLETIVE.”
3. The Ricky Williams trade
Arguably the second-worst trade in NFL history (behind only the Herschel Walker heist) the Saints gave up their entire 1999 draft, plus a first- and third-round pick in 2000, to move up seven spots to select Ricky Williams. Eight picks overall. The return: 3,129 yards and 16 TDs in three seasons for the Saints. Following the 2001 season, New Orleans traded him to the Dolphins.
2. Birth of The Aints
As the Saints racked up loss after loss during the 1980 season, fans began showing up to games wearing paper bags over their heads, and the “Aints” were born. For a franchise, which to that point had been devoid of even a single winning season, the ’80 campaign proved to be the nadir. The 1980 Saints became the first team in NFL history to go 1-15, which included blowing a 35-7 halftime lead in a 38-35 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and it would be another seven seasons before the franchise posted a winning record.
How does an organization get its head coach suspended for an entire season? The Saints figured that out by paying bonuses to players who deliberately injured opposing players. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams started the “program” in 2009, with players and coaches pooling money to pay out “bonuses.” The NFL caught wind of the program after the 2010 season, launched an investigation and determined Williams, along with 22-27 players were involved.
Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season for covering it up, Williams was suspended indefinitely (though he was back in the league the following year), assistant coach Joe Vitt was suspended for six games, four players (including Jonathan Vilma) were suspended for an entire season and the Saints were docked a pair of second-round draft picks and fined $500,000.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell brought in former commish Paul Tagliabue to hear appeals and eventually overturned the player suspensions, but Sean Payton still missed the entire 2012 season — an unprecedented suspension.