This one is going to hurt Bears fans a little.
NBC Sports cousin Mike Florio has gotten around to the New Orleans Saints, who come to Soldier Field on Oct. 6, in his “Faces of the Franchise” series that ID’s the four legends of the game that would go on a mythical Mt. Rushmore for that team.
As has become a pattern, Mike has gotten three of the four “right,” with one Mikey-Mikey-Mikey correction needed, which CSNChicago.com is happy to provide if fan voting for that team hasn’t.
Mike starts off well. You cannot go too wrong in New Orleans with Archie Manning as a selection for any honor. What makes Archie especially notable, besides the fact that he is the dad for one (Peyton), possibly two (Eli) Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
Archie may be the only member of any team’s Rushmore to achieve legend status without ever playing on a winning team. The ’79 Saints got to .500 and got Archie to one of his two Pro Bowls.
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But the following season New Orleans lost 14 straight games to tie the then-record for futility, spawning the “’Aints” fan reaction. Not a distinguished legacy but when you said “Saints” before Drew Brees and that Super Bowl, Archie was the face of the franchise.
As Mike said, “You can’t think Saints without thinking Archie Manning.”
The even bigger Rushmore lock in New Orleans is Brees. Won a Super Bowl. Passed over in 2006 free agency by the Miami Dolphins because of a supposed shoulder problem. He’s won 69 games in seven New Orleans seasons, not including postseasons. Not sure if there is an easier Rushmore install.
Now’s where it gets a bit of a burn for Bears fans.
Overlooking his one-year Bountygate suspension can be debated. But “I think Sean Payton deserves credit because of the history of the franchise,” Mike said.
The nick here is that he was a Bear. Actually, a Spare Bear, part of the fill-in team during the 1987 strike season.
Then comes the ever-difficult fourth “Face.”
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Mike places Hall of Fame rush linebacker Rickey Jackson as his fourth. Missed exactly two games in 15 NFL seasons, 115 sacks for the Saints, All-Decade team for the 1980s. And he was the first player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after playing the predominant portion of his career (13 seasons) as a Saint.
But Mikey, Mikey, Mikey…
The New Orleans fans at least got it right: Willie Roaf. One of the great left tackles of all time, 11-time Pro Bowler, All-Decade teams for both the 1990s and 2000s. Jackson was fifth in fan balloting but Roaf garnered the same percentage (44) of fan votes that Payton did.
How would Roaf have looked in a Bears uniform? The Bears had the No. 7 pick overall in 1993 but Dave Wannstedt, newly hired as coach and taking personnel decision-making from Bill Tobin, insiders said, wanted speed for his team, and Curtis Conway certainly had that.
Besides, the Bears had 16-game rookie starter Troy Auzenne back at left tackle. Willie Who?