There are a few very interesting things to note about the Hall Of Fame Game that the New Orleans Saints are about to participate in. In a little more than 2 weeks, the Saints and Cardinals will face off in Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Last year’s game was cancelled because of the 2011 lockout, but there is a lot to love about the game that’s been played since 1962.
Here are just some of the things to enjoy:
It marks the end of the 6 month off-season: Undoubtedly, this is probably one of the most exciting things about the game to any fan. While many fans outside of the New Orleans area probably are just as excited to see football back, we get the added bonus of seeing the New Orleans Saints in the game. Facing so much off-season drama, I’m sure the team is ready to get down to business and show that they are ready to be the first team to host the Super Bowl in their own stadium. Frustrations abound for the players waiting to get back on the field and prove themselves in a normal off-season, so I’m hoping that the bounty scandal fuels the New Orleans Saints even further, and propels them to even greater success.
It is played in an intimate high-school stadium in Canton, Ohio: To anyone who has never been to Canton, Ohio, it is well worth the trip. The stadium sits just a short walk away from the Hall of Fame building, and autographs are easy to come by on this weekend. Not only can you get autographs from the current Saints and Cardinals players, but also the players being inducted, and those coming to be a part of the festivities. This year being the 50th installment, I’m sure there will be many stars in the area. Aside from the stars though, there is just that feeling you get that you are some place special. Canton is home to many great images, game used memorabilia, trophies, and so many other things that make you feel almost as though you are sent back in time to experience the exact moment that’s being captured.
It is held the same weekend as the Hall of Fame inductions: I wouldn’t say that this amounts to anything incredibly significant most of the time, but the fact that Willie Roaf is being inducted this year should mean something to New Orleans Saints fans. The 11-time Pro Bowler and 8th overall pick of the 1993 draft out of Louisiana Tech was a tremendous offensive lineman with the Saints and the Chiefs. The only seasons he failed to make the Pro Bowl were his rookie season, and 2001. It’s probable that the reason for his not being selected in ’01 was because of a season ending injury. Roaf wasn’t only a tremendous blocker, but he was also incredibly reliable. It wasn’t until 2001 that he played in fewer than 13 games. Jim Everett, Jake Delhomme, and Aaron Brooks each had extremely high praise for Roaf, and why wouldn’t you when he so successfully protected your blind side? He was nicknamed “Nasty” for a reason, as his strength, tenacious on-field attitude, quickness, and technique were unmatched in his time. It is also said that he only retired in 2005 because he missed 6 games that year with a strained hamstring. Otherwise, he probably could have played a few more years.
This is the New Orleans Saints 5th appearance in the game: Currently the Saints sit at 1-3 in the Hall of Fame Game. Their only win came in their first appearance, July of 1970 in which the Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings 14-13. In 1983, the New Orleans Saints lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-14. In 1996, the Saints faced the Indianapolis Colts, losing by a 7, 10-3. In 2007 the Saints played the Steelers for a second time, again tasting defeat, 20-7. Their 5th appearance will match the Washington Redskins, who have never lost the game.
The New Orleans Saints rookies and off-season additions will make their debut: I’m most excited to see Curtis Lofton, Nick Toon, and Adrian Arrington. Curtis Lofton is a tremendous offseason addition, who should fill in more than admirably for Jon Vilma. Lofton has had no fewer than 94 tackles in each of his 4 seasons in the league, and he hasn’t missed a game. He’s very quick to the ball, and he should be fun to watch. Nick Toon, from all reports, has been very quick to learn the offense. By all accounts, he dazzled all the coaches in OTAs, and could emerge as the favorite for the 4th wideout. Adrian Arrington has been buried on the New Orleans Saints depth chart since 2008, when the Saints selected him in the 7th round. He has alternated between practice squad and active roster, and this could be his swan song with the Saints. I’m hoping that isn’t the case, because he has great hands, and he is tall 6’3″ and lanky 192 lbs. I think it would benefit the Saints if Toon is his understudy for a year or two.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t wait for the start of the season. Even though it’s preseason, there is plenty to be excited for. Get your Saints gear ready and towards the front of your closet! It’s going to be a great season, and it’s just over 2 weeks away!