Walter Pierce

The Saints: Congress' team

by Walter Pierce

It’s debatable whether the New Orleans Saints can now be called America’s Team, a moniker on which the Dallas Cowboys’ PR department long ago staked a claim. Likely the Black and Gold will be the sentimental favorite of most viewers come Super Sunday.

What is fair, in a manner of speaking, is calling the Saints Congress’ team. Since taking their very first kick-off for a touchdown in 1967 as a newly minted NFL franchise, and through 43 mostly futile, frustrating years, the Saints have owed their very existence to late Louisiana Congressman Hale Boggs, who in 1966 made a deal with then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to support the NFL-AFL merger in exchange for New Orleans getting a franchise right away. The franchise was announced on Nov. 1, 1966 — All Saints Day — hence, according to popular legend, the team’s name.

The story of Boggs’ gamesmanship and the birth of the Saints is detailed in a story published today on the New York Times’ Web site.