Top five: books for New Orleans Saints fans

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Drew Brees

Founded in 1967 as part of the political manoeuvrings required to get the NFL-AFL merger through Congress, the New Orleans Saints had to wait a long time for success. They won their first, and so far only, Super Bowl in 2009, by which time the city was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, which struck in August 2005. Around 1,400 people died and entire neighbourhoods were destroyed. The Saints became a symbol of the city’s recovery.

With such a short record of success and a short list of legendary players before the late 1980s, there are not many books to choose from about the Saints. However, here are five good ones for fans and those with an interest in the Saints’ story.

1Payton and Brees (2020) by Jeff Duncan

Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived at the Saints at the same time, in 2006. Both the city and the team were recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but Payton and Brees provided some distraction by leading the Saints to their first divisional title since 2000. The Saints lost the NFC Championship game to the Bears but Payton was Coach of the Year and Brees was Walter Payton Man of the Year. Over the course of their run together, they would take five more divisional titles, Brees would be Offensive Player of the Year twice and the team would win Super Bowl XLIV. With the Brees era winding down, Jeff Duncan looks at what the pair accomplished.
Buy the book: Amazon US | Amazon UK

2In the Name of the Father (2018) by Mark Ribowsky

Other than Drew Brees, the only Saints quarterback to make the Pro Bowl was Archie Manning, in 1978 and 1979. Drafted by the Saints in 1971, Manning spent 11 years with the team but never enjoyed a winning record. He was also frequently sacked, with the Saints’ poor line unable to protect him. In 13 games in 1975 he was sacked 49 times. Today, of course, Archie is probably better known as the father of two Super Bowl-winning QBs, Peyton and Eli. Ribowsky’s book tells the story of a remarkable football family.
Buy the book: Amazon US | Amazon UK

3The Saga of the Saints, 1967-1991 (1991) by Wayne Mack

The Saints didn’t make the playoffs until 1987 – 20 years after the team was founded – and didn’t win a playoff game until 2000, long after this book was published. Still, for those who want an overview of the first quarter of a century or so in the Saints’ history, this book is a decent option. Wayne Mack, an actor and broadcaster, was the Saints’ play-by-play commentator in the late 1970s and a well-known sportscaster in the New Orleans area. He died two years after this book was published.

4The Saints, The Superdome and the Scandal (2008) by Dave Dixon

David Dixon, a New Orleans businessman, worked for years to bring a professional team to the city. In 1966, with the NFL seeking Congressional approval for its merger with the AFL, Dixon used his political contacts to help clear the logjam, in return for a franchise in the city. The team was founded within weeks of the merger being approved. Dixon’s book is essentially his autobiography and the big political revelations he promised weren’t really that big, but it’s worth seeking out for fans who want a unique perspective on the formation of the team.
Buy the book: Amazon US

5Saints in the Broken City (2016) by Casey Schreiber

The Saints were central in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The Superdome was used as a shelter for people who hadn’t been able to escape the city before the storm struck and it was so badly damaged during the storm that it was feared that it would have to be demolished. The Saints, already dealing with rumours that were threatening to leave New Orleans, were forced to play their ‘home’ games in the 2005 season in Baton Rouge and San Antonio. Schreiber’s book looks at the city’s recovery from disaster and how the Saints became a symbol of hope.
Buy the book: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Photo: Tammy Anthony Baker

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