Now that the New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl, take a look back at the five greatest quarterbacks in Saints’ history.
5. Billy Kilmer
At the conclusion of the 1966 season, the San Francisco 49ers left often-injured RB Billy Kilmer unprotected in the free agent draft for the NFL’s newest franchise, the New Orleans Saints. Thinking Kilmer’s best days as a running back were behind him due to multiple injuries, the Saints hoped that Kilmer would provide depth at quarterback, a position he had played on a part-time basis in San Francisco, as well as in college. However, Kilmer quickly established himself as the best option as the signal caller for the Saints. Over his first three years as the Saints’ quarterback, Kilmer’s statistics gradually improved each year. However, after a disastrous season in 1970, which saw Kilmer throw for 17 interceptions, but only six touchdowns, the Saints drafted Archie Manning with the second overall pick in the 1971 draft. Much to the chagrin of Saints fans, Billy Kilmer would go on to have a very successful career with the Washington Redskins, which included an NFC Championship in the 1972 season.
4. Aaron Brooks
Under head coach Mike Ditka, the play of Saints’ quarterbacks had been a disaster. So new head coach Jim Haslett brought in veteran Jeff Blake as starting quarterback. After getting off to a great start in 2000, Blake suffered a season ending injury and backup QB Aaron Brooks was inserted into the starting lineup. After one season as the third string quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Brooks’ first start came against the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams. Brooks and his team shocked the Rams by defeating them in St. Louis. The Saints went on to win the division by posting a 10-6 record. But Aaron Brooks then went on to accomplish a feat that no one had ever done before. He led the New Orleans Saints to a playoff victory, by defeating those same Rams 31-28. Brooks would continue to post outstanding statistics over the next five seasons at quarterback. In fact, at the end of his tenure with New Orleans, he was the Saints’ career leader in touchdown passes. However, after the traumatic 2005 Hurricane Katrina season, his loyal head coach was fired and the new regime signed free agent Drew Brees to be its new starting quarterback. Brooks would go on to play one more season with the Oakland Raiders before retiring.
3. Bobby Hebert
Bobby Hebert was born in Cut Off, LA and even played college football in his home state at Northwestern State University. After an outstanding career in the USFL, which included a USFL Championship, Hebert came home to the New Orleans Saints. After securing the starting job at quarterback, Hebert led the Saints to both its first winning season and its first playoff appearance in 1987. The Saints again posted winning records in ’88 and ’89, but could not supplant the San Francisco 49ers atop the NFC West. After not playing in 1990 due to a contract dispute, Hebert rejoined New Orleans in 1991 and led his team to their first ever division title. Despite two more trips to the playoffs, Hebert was never able to lead the Saints to a playoff victory. Much like Kilmer before him, Hebert also experienced much success after leaving New Orleans. In 1993, Bobby Hebert joined the Saints’ bitter rivals the Atlanta Falcons, with whom he would spend the last four years of his career. The ’93 season was Hebert’s best year statistically and he was voted to his only Pro Bowl that year.
2. Archie Manning
After posting dreadful records from 1967-1970, Saints’ fans hoped that new QB Archie Manning would be the savior to lead their team to the Promised Land. Unfortunately, the talent level at the other positions around him did not improve. Despite being an outstanding scrambler and runner, Manning had a propensity for getting sacked and thus, injured. After the arrival of new offensive weapons such as RB Tony Galbreath, RB Chuck Muncie, TE Henry Childs and WR Wes Chandler, the Saints’ offensive became much more explosive in the late 1970’s. In fact, Archie Manning was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1978 and 1979. However, after disastrous seasons in 1980 and 1981, Manning was traded to the Houston Oilers. He finished his career in 1984 with the Minnesota Vikings. A sign of the respect that the New Orleans Saints franchise has for Manning is that no other player has been issued the #8 jersey number, which he wore in New Orleans.
1. Drew Brees
The New Orleans Saints acquired Drew Brees as a free agent before the 2006 season. Despite outstanding play for the San Diego Chargers, most teams thought Brees’ career was over due to a devastating shoulder injury in the 2005 playoffs. However, Brees led the Saints to the number one ranking in the NFL in offense in 2006. That year also saw Brees rejuvenate the city that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina with an NFC South division title and the Saints’ first ever trip to the NFC Championship. In 2007 and 2008, Brees and the Saints’ offense would continue to post prolific numbers, but a porous defense kept the Saints out of the playoffs. In 2009, thanks in part to new Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams and new acquisitions S Darren Sharper and CB Jabari Greer, the New Orleans Saints went 13-3, their best season ever. Once again, Brees led the offense to a #1 league ranking in total yards and he surpassed Aaron Brooks as the franchise leader in total touchdown passes. He also secured the highest completion percentage in league history. More importantly, the Saints secured the #1 seed in the NFC. After postseason victories over the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings, the New Orleans Saints earned their first ever trip to the Super Bowl. In the game, Brees tied the record for the most completions in a Super Bowl and was voted the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV after leading the New Orleans Saints to a stunning 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. During his time in New Orleans, Brees has won numerous awards for his quarterback play. But he will always be a hero to Saints’ fans for leading their team to victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
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