In the Beginning....
3 Wins 11 Loses
Coach: Tom Fears
First Round Draft Pick: Les Kelly Running Back, Alabama
New Orleans Saints History officially began on November 1 –All Saints Day– in 1966. New Orleans was awarded the NFL’s 16th franchise and by the end of the year oilman John W. Mecom Jr became majority stock holder and named Atlanta Falcon offensive co-coordinator Tom Fears as head coach. Before then Fears had been on staff at Green Bay and Los Angles.
The Saints actually had some big names signed to the roster. Names like Billy Kilmer and Doug Atkins. The Former LSU Tiger and Green Bay legend Jim Taylor would play his last season in New Orleans before being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Taylor’s team mate Paul Horung had actually been chosen in the expansion draft also but a back injury led him to an early retirement. For the defense, players like defensive end Doug Atkins and linebacker Steve Stonebreaker came on.
The Wide, Wide, Wacky World of the New Orleans Saints actually began quite well. A 5-1 record was posted during the preseason. Even the opening kickoff of the 1967 season against the Rams was something to get excited about. Rookie John Gilliam’s 94-yard TD return electrified the Tulane Stadium crowd. The Rams managed to come back and win 27-13.
The first win didn’t come until week 8, against the Philadelphia Eagles. Wide receiver Flea Roberts had 3 TDs in a 31-24 victory. Other victories where against Atlanta and Washington.
All in all, the first New Orleans Saint season wasn’t that bad. The 3 wins posted matched the most of any first year expansion team at that time and the Saints showed they could at least hit hard and be competitive.
Defensive back Dave Whitsell would make the Pro Bowl while leading the NFL in interceptions with 10, still a team record. Jim Taylor led the team in rushing with 390 yards with 2 TDS. Billy Kilmer & Gary Cuozzo split the QB duties. The surprise of the year was rookie wide receiver Danny Abramowicz. As a 17th round draft pick, Abramowicz led the team in receiving with 50 catches & 721 yards (6 TDS).
The 1967 New Orleans Saints Season Schedule