3. Doug Atkins, DE (1967-69)
The New Orleans Saints first season of existence was 1967 and they weren't very competitive for a long time. They didn't have their first non-losing season until 1979 when they went 8-8. Their first winning campaign wasn't until 1987 when they went 12-3 — which was when the previously mentioned "Dome Patrol" helped turn them around.
Despite their struggles, there were some star players that fans could rally around. The first of which was defensive end Doug Atkins, who was a 14-year veteran added in a trade with the Chicago Bears. Atkins had grown frustrated with the Bears and asked to be sent elsewhere, and that allowed New Orleans to bring in the 6-foot-8 pass rusher.
At the time, Atkins towered over his opponents and this allowed him to remain effective late in his career. By the time he was with New Orleans, he was already 37 years old but was still a terror for offensive linemen to deal with. He recorded 9.5 sacks in the team's inaugural campaign and then added 12.5 in 1968 and 8.0 in 1969 at the age of 39.
Even his final play in the league was huge as he sacked Dick Shiner of the Pittsburgh Steelers to secure a 27-24 win. He made the team's Hall of Fame as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame but it's easy to forget how much he meant to a young franchise that relied heavily on his star power.