5 Saints Make the Pro Bowl in 1979
For their first 20 seasons in the NFL the New Orleans Saints had precious few memorable moments and even fewer memorable seasons. The 1979 Saints Season was the exception. It was the first time in franchise history that our Saints were actually in contention for a playoff spot. And while the feeling was evanescent for Saints fans, it was real nonetheless. For a fleeting moment, after 13 seasons of losing, the Saints held their destiny in their hands. Going into week 13 the New Orleans Saints, with a 7-6 record, were tied with the Los Angeles Rams for for 1st place in a very weak NFC Western Division title race. Never before had Saints fans had hope of post season this late in a season.
But of course they they didn’t make the playoffs that year. Devastating Loses to the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers the following weeks ended any hopes for playoffs. Still we had an 8-8 season to show for the efforts. It was the first season in New Orleans that wasn’t a losing year.
With the year’s success came awards for the players. 5 Saints made the Pro Bowl. It remained the most players the Saints would ever sent to the Pro Bowl until 1992. That was the year all 4 linebackers of the Dome Patrol along along with Morten Andersen and Joel Hilgenburg went to Honolulu.
Above we see the 5 representatives of the Who Dat Nation. 1979 had been a tremendous seasons for each one.
Wes Chandler – a former 1st round pick in 1978 from Florida Chandler was establishing himself in the NFL. in 79 he was #8 in the league in catches and #6 in receiving yards. Set a team record of 205 receiving yards in the season opener against Atlanta and set another team record of 10 catches against Green Bay the following week.
Archie Manning – One of the best known Saints during the 1970s. At this time he was finally being recognized at one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. The NFC’s 4th ranked passer, 1979 was his second Pro Bowl (he was the only Saint to make the trip in 1978). His 60% completion percentage was also tied for first in the NFC. Had an outstanding game in the Pro Bowl connecting on 9 of 10 passes for a 112 yards and a touchdown.
Henry Childs – Possibly one of the more under-rated players in New Orleans Saints History. Childs was arguably the best Tight End the saints ever had until the 1980s. 1979 was his 6th season with the Saints and his one and only Pro Bowl. He had the most receiving yards (851) for tight ends in the league and his 51 catches was second among other tight ends in the NFC.
Chuck Muncie – He will always be remembered as the first Saint runner to gain over 1,000 yards. 1979 seemed to be the year Muncie finally was putting it all together, at least on the field. It was the first of 3 Pro Bowl trips for his 9-year career. With 1198 yards he was the NFL’s #7 top ground gainer and averaged 5 yards a carry. His 11 rushing TDS was 2nd in the NFC as well. He was named the Pro Bowl’s MVP.
Tommy Myers – Another of the unheralded players in the Who Dat Annals. Tommy Myers had been a hard hitting defensive back for the Saints for 8 seasons when he was elected to go the the Pro Bowl in 1979. He was the NFC’s second leading ball hawk with 7 picks. He had a 51-yard interception return touchdown against Detroit.
I was a 13-year old die hard Saints fan in 1979 and these guys were my heroes. I can still recall the excitement of following them through 8 – yes 8 victories. When the season ended the anticipation was was almost unbearable waiting for NFL play to resume in 1980. But as Saints fans were all too accustomed to back then the 1980 Saints season was the ultimate let down. After winning more games in a season than ever before the Saints had their worst season ever going 1-15 and ushering in the season of “The Bag Heads”.
But even so, for those win-starved Saints fans of the early days 1979 let us know what winning could be like.