There was bit of a special moment and a bit of nostalgia for me personally this past week thanks to the New Orleans Saints.
The Black and Gold welcomed in three new members to the team’s Hall of Fame. Former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco who played an integral role in helping keep the Saints in New Orleans, joined a pair of players who helped spark the turnaround of the team’s fortunes post Hurricane Katrina.
Reggie Bush and Marques Colston joined Blanco at the Saints’ team facility last week to receive the honor. When I saw the two players up there it got me thinking back to a time when there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the team.
Bush and Colston both entered the league in 2006. The season felt like a “fresh start” following a dismal 2005 campaign where the Saints played only a handful of games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, some in San Antonio, Texas, and a “home” game in East Rutherford, N.J.
Both Bush and Colston represented the bookends to the 2006 draft class for the Saints as they were the first and last picks taken. Bush went No. 2 overall after the Houston Texans announced on the eve of the draft that they were going to select North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams first overall.
Bush brought a new element to not only the running back position, but also the game with his lightning-quick moves and blazing speed. He was also a formidable weapon in the receiving game, catching passes out of the backfield. He was the perfect compliment to fellow Saints running backs Deuce McAllister and later Pierre Thomas.
Colston went in the seventh round at pick No. 252. After the career he turned in, he may go down as one of the most underrated picks in Saints history, if not ever.
Colston lacked the speed that most other receivers had, but he made up for it with his pass-catching ability and large frame. He quickly became a favorite target of quarterback Drew Brees, who was also in his first year in New Orleans.
In addition to Bush, Colston helped lead the Saints to their best season ever in 2009-10 where they won Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints were the only team that Colston played for professionally, and he finished his career with a number of team records, including total receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, just to name a few. Not bad for a guy who was the fourth-to-last pick of a draft!
So when I learned of the latest inductees in the Saints Hall of Fame, it got me thinking about the good old days of Saints football when the team restored hope across the area and helped spark a renewed sense of pride in the Who Dat Nation that lives on to present day.
I’m sure I can speak for every Saints fan when I say to Blanco, Bush and Colston — Thank you!