For years, the New Orleans Saints wandered in the NFL jungle. They were one of those bumbling franchises that always seemed t o shoot themselves in the foot.
They began play as an expansion team in 1967 and went 3-11. They would play 11 more seasons with losing record until they went 8-8 in 1979. It would be 21 seasons of play before the Saints had a winning record. Now, after 43 seasons of action, they’ve had nine winning records and four division titles.
He made that commitment from the time the Kansas City Chiefs moved up to draft him 13th overall in 1997 out of the University of California. The rewards have been coming his way since then, including a unanimous selection from USA TODAY’s panel as the premier tight end of the 2000s. He received 50 points from a panel of editors and reporters, 10 more than runner-up Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers.
“It’s a no-brainer,” says eight-time Pro Bowl tight end Shannon Sharpe. “That might be the easiest position to determine.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones flew in on his private jet, while Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and the entire Carolina Panthers staff flew coach. New Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis also was spotted.
There were literally hundreds of scouts, evaluators, executives and coaches scouring the on-field activity. And that doesn’t even include the hundreds more who watched the very public weigh-in earlier in the day. Those on hand gasped when Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody weighed in at 370 pounds.
The professional version of the all-star game (Pro Bowl) is seeing players take a pass on the festivities and, even those who are making the game, aren’t likely playing for their future. In the college ranks, this weekend’s all-star game (Senior Bowl) is just the opposite. Both the North and South rosters are filled with numerous players playing for numerous reasons.
Different reasons for different players, but one trait is common among the second group from above. The amateurs (which is a status that won’t last long) all share a similar sense of urgency this week in Mobile.