Portrait of Original Saint Player Dave Whitsell

This watercolor of Dave Whitsell, one of the original New Orleans Saints of 1967 is the latest edition to the New Orleans Saints Art category here at New Orleans History.

Dave Whitsell 1967 new orleans saints


The original New Orleans Saints team that began play in 1967 had 42 players chosen from other NFL teams in an “Expansion Draft”. What this amounted to many players that were considered expendable by their former teams joining the Saints roster. One such player that was chosen by Saints Head Coach Tom Fears was a 10 year veteran defensive back named Dave Whitsell. Dave Whitsell had originally been a 24th round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1958 from Indiana and had spent the previous 6 seasons with Chicago. He started at Left Cornerback that first season with the Saints and turned in a phenomenal season with 10 interceptions and 2 scores – one of those was a 41-yard pick six against the Eagles during the Saints first ever victory. He led the NFL in interceptions that 1967 season and was named to the Pro Bowl – the first Saint to have that honor. To this day, Dave Whitsell’s 10 interceptions are still the Saints team record for Most Interceptions in a Season. He stayed with the Saints until 1969 when he retired after 12 seasons. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 63 a resident of Kenner.
So here is the portrait of him done by longtime New Orleans artist Bob Graham. Graham has done several depictions of New Orleans Saints players over the years including Saint greats such as Ricky Jackson and Vaughn Johnson. Many of his works are available for viewing at his studio in New Orleans and at the New Orleans Saints Museum. His works can also be viewed at his website Bob Graham Art


Dave Whitsell’s Career with the New Orleans Saints

Interceptions Yards Longest Touchdowns
1967* 10 178 41 2
1968 6 44 32 0
1969 3 14 11 0
Totals 19 236 41 2
* – Pro Bowl
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