Before he was the father of a pair of Super Bowl champions, Manning was a stellar quarterback in his own right. A native of Mississippi, he captured the imagination of Saints fans when he was the organization’s top pick, and second overall pick, in 1971. He spent most of his career with the Saints, playing there from 1971-82, though missing the 1976 season recovering from surgery. He concluded his career playing with a pair of other teams, but it was in New Orleans that he gained his acclaim. Manning was well-respected throughout the league. He passed for 115 of his 125 touchdowns with the Saints, and raced to all eight of his rushing touchdowns. He was the NFC MVP in 1978 and made a pair of appearances in the Pro Bowl. After he ended his playing days, Manning participated in Saints’ broadcasts.
LB Rickey Jackson
A second-round draft pick, Jackson played for the Saints for the majority of his career. His impact was felt immediately as Jackson earned seven sacks and was the team’s leading tackler during his rookie season. He would continue to be difficult to contain and in 1993, stormed to 12 sacks. That marked the first of six double-digit sack seasons in his career. He also snared eight career interceptions. During his 13 seasons with the Saints (he played his final two years with the San Francisco 49ers), he made five of his six Pro Bowl appearances.
LB Sam Mills
Mills was potent for his size, a gutsy player who became a force during his nine-year tenure with the Saints. He followed coach Jim Mora to the NFL’s Saints, where he immediately began making an impact. He led the team in tackles in 1989 and gained the respect of his peers quickly. Mills was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and spent nine of his 12 NFL seasons with the Saints.
OT Willie Roaf
Roaf was a massive presence for the Saints and was a tough force to face. He spent nine seasons with the Saints (1993-2001) after being a first-round draft pick. He led the Saints in Pro Bowl appearances with seven (1994-2000) and was an integral part in the 2000 NFC West effort. Roaf was named to the organization’s All-Saints team.
QB Drew Brees
Brees has brought to new life and spark to the Saints’ franchise. A tenacious quarterback, he is a hero in New Orleans after leading the Saints to the XLIV Super Bowl and earning the MVP honor. Brees has thrown for 155 touchdowns and rushed for three since joining the organization in 2006 following five seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He was the 2008 and 2009 Offensive Player of the Year, has appeared in four Pro Bowls and is the second quarterback in the NFL to pass for more than 4,000 yards in five consecutive seasons. But bringing home the Super Bowl trophy was enough to endear him to Saints fans forever.