Tom Fears and the Original New Orleans Saints Coaching Staff

The NFL's Newest Head Coach with a Brand New Team in 1967.

Saints Head Coach Tom Fears with his coaching staff in 1967
Saints Head Coach Tom Fears is flanked by the coaching staff of 1967.

 The New Orleans Saints first regular season was in 1967. Tom Fears, former All-Pro Receiver and Offensive Coordinator of the fledgling Atlanta Falcons was named Head Coach. 5 other coaches were selected to lead the Saints that year. By 1970 though, Fears and everyone else would be gone. This would be norm for many years for players and coaches alike associated with those early Saints teams – brief stays.

Here is a breakdown of those 6 men that began the coaching end of the early Saints.

Tom Fears - Head Coach

 Before Tom Fears was selected as the NFL’s newest expansion team he enjoyed a Canton-worthy career with the Los Angeles Rams in the 1950s. Along with fellow Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin at quarterback, Ollie Matson at halfback and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch at the other receiver spot the Rams had one of NFL’s All-Time powerhouse offenses. Tom Fears himself set records for most catches in a season and most catches in a game – the latter stood for 50 years before it was broken.

Following his playing days he was on the coaching staffs of the Packers, Rams and Falcons before he was named head coach of New Orleans Saints. He remained with the Saints until mid-way through the 1970 season when he was replaced by J.D. Roberts. His overall record was 13 victories, 34 losses and 2 ties. In actuality his record was not as bad as it seems. Expansion teams of that era started off with just an extra draft pick and they choice of the rest of the league’s cast-offs. The 12 victories of the Saints first three seasons matched or exceeded any other expansion team’s efforts up to that time including the Cowboys and Vikings. He was chosen as the East Squad’s coach in the 1970 Pro Bowl. That same year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

After a brief tenure in the World Football League he began an NFL scouting service and was also offering technical advice to the entertainment industry for pro-football related movies. When he offered consultation for the production of North Dallas Forty, a movie based on a novel by former Cowboys receiver Peter Gent that cast professional football in most negative light, his company suffered as he claims the NFL black-balled him from any future work.

He passed away in 2000 at the age of 77.

Jack Faulkner - Defensive Coordinator

 A former Head Coach and General Manager of the AFL’s Denver Broncos Jack Faulker earned Coach of the Year Honors in 1962. After leaving the Broncos he was on staff with the Vikings and Rams before joining the Saints. He remained Defensive Coordinator until 1969 and became the Saints Personal Director in 1970. His final project connected with the Saints organization was signing then-rookie Archie Manning to the team.

He left for Los Angeles and remained with the Rams front office until 1996 serving in several roles ranging from talent scout to General manager.

He passed away in 2008.

Bob Shaw - Receivers Coach

 A Bronze Star recipient during WWII, Bob Shaw was a rookie with the Cleveland Rams in 1945 when they won the NFL Championship. He also played for the Toledo Jeeps – a professional Basketball team in the off season. In 1950 he made the Pro Bowl with the Chicago Cardinals when he led the league with 12 touchdowns scored. He is also credited with being the first receiver to catch 5 touchdowns in a single game.

 And while his time with the Saints was just 2 seasons (1967 & 1968) it was part of a coaching/General Manager career split between the NFL, CFL and college ranks that spanned almost 30 years. He was named CFL Coach of the Year in 1976.  He passed away at the age of 89 in 2011.

Ed Khayat - Defensive Line Coach

 A standout player at Tulane, Ed Khayat‘s first coaching job was with the 1967 Saints as Defensive Line Coach. Before that he had been a defensive lineman for 10 years bouncing between Philadelphia and Washington. He was a starter for the Eagles Championship team of 1960.

 He stayed with New Orleans until 1970. After that he joined Philadelphia coaching the defensive line but after 3 weeks into the 1971 season he found himself as the Eagles Head Coach. Rallying his team the Eagles finished the year with a 6-7-1 record as he hired as head coach again. Unfortunately, 1972 was much less successful and by 1973 he was with Detroit. He remained coaching for the next 30 years for many different teams.

 According to Wikipedia, at 84, he is currently on the Former Players Board of Directors for the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

Walt Yowarsky - Offensive Line Coach

 An NFL veteran for 5 seasons Walt Yowarsky was the Giants starting defensive end on their 1956 Championship team. Starting as an assistant with the Giants in 1959 he joined Minnesota for the Vikings inaugural season of 1961 as an Offensive Line Coach. He joined the Saints and was here only briefly. By 1969 he was with the Falcons and would spend time in Houston and San Diego before retiring from coaching in 1974 to become a scout. In 1977 he joined Dallas as a scout and is credited with finding much of the talent that brought the Cowboys 3 Super Bowl Titles. He is also remembered for his ardent insistence that the Cowboys draft Emmitt Smith, making the statement “Emmitt Smith will someday make Cowboys fans forget about Tony Dorsett.”

 He passed away in 2014 at the age of 86.

George Dickson - Offensive Coordinator

 A combat veteran of the 101st during World War II George Dickson saw action at Normandy and Bastogne.  After the war he attended Notre Dame and was a back-up quarterback. Coaching on the high school and college level until 1961 he joined the Oakland Raiders as a Defensive Backs coach. After some time with Denver he was on staff with Fears in Atlanta in 1966 and made the move with him to New Orleans as Offensive Coordinator in 1967. By 1969 he was with the Redskins and would see time with the Oilers and Chargers and even a brief Head Coaching job of the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL in 1976.

 As of the publishing of this article he is still alive and living in Boston at the age of 98.

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