Archie Manning Joins the New Orleans Saints!
With the second overall pick of the 1971 NFL Draft, All-American quarterback Archie Manning of Ole Miss was chosen as the Saints number 1 pick. Billy Kilmer had previously been traded to Washington for a 4th and an 8th round pick in the 1972 draft.
Manning had placed third in the previous years Heisman Trophy award balloting. In his career at Ole Miss, he passed for over 4700 yards and 56 touchdowns. Manning would remain in a Saints uniform for the next 11 years and continues to be an icon in southern sports to this day. The season opener in Tulane Stadium was a dandy. Archie threw for 218 yards and one touchdown. But what Saint Fans will always remember about the 24-20 upset against the Los Angles Rams is the rookie quarterback's 1-yard bootleg score on the last play of the game to win it. In another big upset, this time against the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys, Archie rushed for 2 scores in that win. Unfortunately, the Saints could only muster 2 more wins on the season, against San Francisco and Green Bay.
Both Manning and journeyman Ed Hargett shared the quarterback duties. Hargett's numbers where 6 TD's and 1191 yards (a 46% completion rate), Manning's 6 scores also, 1164 yards, a 49% completion rate. Jim Strong, formerly of San Francisco, led the team in rushing with 404 yards while rookie Bob Greshem of West Virginia had the most scores with 6 TD's on the ground. Archie had 4 TD's rushing. Receiver Danny Abramowicz led the team in receiving for the 5th straight year with 37 grabs and 651 yards. Tight end Dave Parks was right behind with 35 grabs and 368 yards. Both receivers had 5 scores.
For the defense, second-year-man Delles Howard and free safety Hugo Hollas each had 5 interceptions. Doug Wyatt had 4, while Dee Martin had 3.