1987: The year New Orleans Saints football finally became relevant

deanmullen
Oct 4, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; A general view of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome prior to the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; A general view of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome prior to the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Saints had their first winning season and made their first ever playoff appearance in 1987, and it was a memorable year indeed.

Okay, so this is my favorite memory of the New Orleans Saints, and the year was 1987. This is going to be hard to comprehend if you weren’t around here during the 80’s, but I will try to enlighten you. Keep in mind that in the previous 20 years (yes 20 years) there wasn’t one winning season. There were two 8-8 seasons and the rest were under .500. The year before, in 1986, the Saints finished 7-9 with the new coach Jim Mora.

The 1987 NFL season in itself was so bizarre. The year started off with an NFL strike that began right after Week 2 and lasted 24 days. Week 3 was cancelled against the Atlanta Falcons, and the three games after were played by replacement players.

John Fourcade became the starting quarterback, as the New Orleans Saints went 2-1 in this stretch. The Saints would only lose one more game, to the San Francisco 49ers, when the miracle began.

The New Orleans Saints would win nine-straight games to finish 12-3. They not only made the playoffs for the first time but also had their first winning season. Once the Saints clinched their first playoff spot, the ‘Benson Boogie‘ made its first appearance. I’ll never forget the city. There were horns honking, people dancing, and complete happiness. The Saints finally arrived.

Being only 16 years old at the time, I was lucky enough to have an older friend across the street who wanted to get tickets to the Saints’ first playoff game. We both decided on a location to spend the night and set up a little tent.

There was a place called Warehouse Records and Tapes on Veterans Blvd in Metairie. I can’t quite remember what time we got there, but the line was growing fast. The next 12 hours seemed to roll by as drums beat and yells echoed into the night as the early morning approached.

To this day, that one night was the most over the top celebration that I’ve ever seen. There were hundreds out there waiting to get their golden tickets. When both my friend Glenn and I arrived at the window and got the tickets, we ran and jumped like we won the lottery. The fact is we did.

Both of us saw the many failures of the New Orleans Saints just years prior, being so close to getting in. In 1987, the Saints were winners. New Orleans was on the map for NFL football. The game against the Minnesota Vikings on that January 3rd of 1988 was a huge blowout — 44-10. It didn’t matter. I was there. We were there. The Black and Gold overcame 20 years of losing to finally be relevant.

This wasn’t a dream. The reality of a winning professional team right here in my home city was finally getting that first date. She finally said “yes”. The NFL made all our dreams come true. I’d love to hear others tell their stories. Go on Twitter or our Facebook page if you need more room. Tell us how the New Orleans Saints made a lifelong memory for you.

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