A Brief History of the New Orleans Saints

In honor of the bittersweet season the New Orleans Saints have had, we wanted to look back at some of their history. We found that Pro Football Hall of Fame site had information dating as far back as we could remember.

It hasn’t always been good for the Saints.  They had a long road before getting to where they are now.  The National Football League awarded its 16th franchise to New Orleans on November 1, 1966, ironically All Saints Day. Less than a month later, no one was surprised when the team was named the “Saints.”

The 1967 NFL season began and New Orleans new that creating as much pre-season fan enthusiasm as possible in a city not previously exposed to pro football would be key to boosting support and morale.  The Saints made each home game a special event, a “Mardi Gras in Autumn,” with cheerleaders, jazz bands, and high school and college marching bands. New Orleans was destined year-after-year to have poor success on the field but still, they managed to thrill their fans with some exciting victories and memorable moments first at Tulane Stadium and later at the Superdome.  Incredibly, the average home attendance was 75K per game!

Their first season they won five of their six preseason games and opened the regular season on against the Los Angeles Rams before a packed house of 80,879 in Tulane Stadium. New Orleans fans will always remember John Gilliam’s 94-yard touchdown return with the opening kickoff even though the Rams eventually won 27-13. A final game victory over the Washington Redskins allowed the Saints to match the 3-11 first-year record attained by Minnesota in 1961 and Atlanta in 1966.

Over the years, New Orleans has seen some major plays and even more major players such as quarterback Archie Manning, running back George Rogers, Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Rickey Jackson, wide receiver Eric Martin and placekicker Morten Andersen.

The Saints struggled to become a winning team until 1987 after New Orleans businessman Tom Benson acquired the franchise. Benson immediately hired Jim Finks, a future Hall of Fame administrator, as president and general manager, and Jim Mora as the head coach. The pair soon turned the Saints into one of the NFL’s most potent franchises.

The Saints’ 21st season saw things turn around under Coach Mora.  The Saints won 12 of 15 games for a second-place finish in the NFC West. The Saints reached the playoffs four times in six seasons from 1987 to 1992 and won their first NFC West championship in 1991.

Fast forward to 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans on August 29 including extensive damage to the Louisiana Superdome. The Saints were unable to play any home games at the Superdome for the entire 2005 NFL regular season as a result. The stadium was also used to temporarily house victims of the storm.

After practicing for approximately a week in San Jose, California, where they had evacuated in conjunction with a pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders, the team set up temporary headquarters and arranged for practice facilities in San Antonio, Texas.  The league then announced that although the Saints’ first home game against the New York Giants would be played at Giants Stadium, other home games would be split between Tiger Stadium (the stadium of the LSU Tigers football) at LSU and the Alamodome in San Antonio.

In 2006 Sean Payton took over as head coach. The Saints returned to playing all of their regular home games of the season in New Orleans at the Superdome. Their first game back in New Orleans was marked by a dramatic blocked punt early in the first quarter, with Steve Gleason blocking the punt and Curtis Deloatch recovering the ball in the Falcons’ end zone for a touchdown. It was the first score in the Saints’ first game in New Orleans in nearly 21 months. The Saints won the game and, unexpectedly, went on to have the most successful season in their history up to that time, reaching the NFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history.  Four years later Peyton guided the team to their first championship in franchise history when they won Super Bowl XLIV. In July 2012, “Rebirth”, a statue depicting Gleason blocking the punt, was erected outside the Superdome; a news report commented that the blocked punt “etched Steve Gleason into Saints lore and became symbolic of New Orleans’ resilience in the face of disaster”.

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Famous Louisiana Authors

The vibrant, rich culture and history of the Bayou State has inspired countless numbers of famous Louisiana authors and even more stories.  Some of America’s, even the world’s best work came from the South. Tennessee Williams. Mark Twain. Walt Whitman.  Ernest Gaines. Kate Chopin. Anne Rice. Literary lovers from all over can appreciate the folklore and storytelling that the bayous, foodways, and the motley crew of ethnicities, cultures, and belief systems inspire. Louisianatravel.com recently published a compilation of all the most famous Louisiana literary legends and we took our favorites from that list to dive deeper into their works, inspiration, and backgrounds.  

1.    Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams is considered among the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.  Some of his most famous works include The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), and Sweet Bird of Youth (1959).  His works were greatly influenced by his struggle with depression and tumultuous personal life. Well into his 60s, Williams still struggled but as he slid deeper in depression, his work began to suffer as well.  Much of Williams’ most acclaimed work was written early in his career and has been adapted for the cinema. His mother once said of Williams’ writing: “Tom would go to his room with black coffee and cigarettes and I would hear the typewriter clicking away at night in the silent house. Some mornings when I walked in to wake him for work, I would find him sprawled fully dressed across the bed, too tired to remove his clothes.”  Williams also wrote short stories, poetry, essays and a volume of memoirs. In 1979, four years before his death, Williams was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Every year the French Quarter hosts the annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. Williams lived for a time in New Orleans and used it as the setting for “A Streetcar Named Desire” and other short stories. Fans can also check out Williams’ first Vieux Carre apartment at 722 Toulouse Street, now home of the Historic New Orleans Collection. Next hop a streetcar, you can temporarily name “Desire,” down Saint Charles and view the cemeteries and sights of fading Southern grandeur that inspired Williams’ work.

2.    Ann Rice

Anne Rice is one of the most well known contemporary Louisiana authors.  She was born and raised in New Orleans and holds a Master of Arts Degree in English and Creative Writing. Even though Anne has spent more of her life in California than in New Orleans, she has said numerous times that New Orleans is her true home and inspiration for her famous novels. Interview with the Vampire, her 1st novel, was set in The French Quarter. Interview with the Vampire was made into a motion picture in 1994, directed by Neil Jordan, and starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas. Her antebellum house in the Garden District was the fictional home of her imaginary Mayfair Witches. Ann is the author of over 30 novels, including The Witching Hour, Servant of the Bones, Merrick, Blackwood Farm, Blood Canticle, Violin, and Cry to Heaven.

3.    Ernest Gaines

Ernest James Gaines (born January 15, 1933) is an African-American author whose works have been taught in college classrooms and translated into many languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese. Gaines was among the fifth generation of his sharecropper family to be born on a plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. This became the setting and premise for many of his later works. He was the eldest of 12 children, raised by his aunt, who was crippled and had to crawl to get around the house. Although born generations after the end of slavery, Gaines grew up impoverished, living in old slave quarters on a plantation.  When the children were not picking cotton in the fields, a visiting teacher came for five to six months of the year to provide basic education. Schooling for African-American children did not continue beyond the eighth grade during this time in Pointe Coupee Parish. His first novel was written at age 17, while babysitting his youngest brother, Michael. According to one account, he wrapped it in brown paper, tied it with string, and sent it to a New York publisher, who rejected it. Gaines burned the manuscript, but later rewrote it to become his first published novel, Catherine Carmier.  Four of his works have been made into television movies. His 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying (1993) was nominated for Pulitzer Prize, was rewarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction (1993), and was inducted into Oprah’s Book Club (1997). Gaines currently resides on the land where he grew up with his wife.

At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette resides The Ernest J. Gaines Center which is an international center for scholarship on Ernest Gaines and his work. The center honors the work of Gaines and provides a space for scholars to work with the his papers and manuscripts. Gaines’s generous donation of his early papers and manuscripts (through 1983) and some artifacts to Edith Garland Dupré Library provided the foundation for the center’s collection. The center also anticipates acquiring the remainder of Gaines’s papers.

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Top Louisiana Bed and Breakfasts

Louisiana is a place that knows no strangers so it’s no wonder that it’s home of the world’s best Bed and Breakfasts.  From quaint Cajun Cottages to exemplary 5 star inns, Louisiana boasts some of the most historic and architecturally complex places to bunk, a real treat for the traveler wishing to relive history, add the highest quality of customer service as well as an eclectic array of food, and you have yourself a relaxing vacay blending the perfect amount of relaxation and excursion. Depending on what you have in mind as far as experience, food, and geographical location, there is something for everyone.  Destination 360 has compiled a list of the best and we have narrowed it down to the top 4.  Click here for the full list.

1.    Melrose Mansion

The Melrose Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Louisiana has been voted one of the most romantic Louisiana bed and breakfast Inns in the country. A Victorian treasure, you can live in luxury and enjoy the history in one of the 21 rooms filled with period antiques. You will be sure to experience the comforts of home, and then some, with their southern hospitality. Enjoy breakfast in their quaint courtyard alongside the swimming pool, perfect for cooling off in the summer heat. This ideal location on the edge of the French Quarter provides convenient access to everything New Orleans! By day, stroll a few blocks down the avenue in the direction of the Mississippi River to check out the French Market, Café du Monde, and Jackson Square. Or pedicab your way through Royal Street’s endless unique shops and fabulous New Orleans dining offerings.

2.    Stockade Bed & Breakfast

The Stockade Bed and Breakfast has hosted guests from all over the world.  People come from all over to experience all they have to offer. It is named after the Civil War stockade that occupied the grounds and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The large, Hacienda-style house offers five main-house accommodation options: four spacious guest rooms and one two-bedroom suite, each with a private bath and original artwork adorning the walls. Included with your stay is a homemade gourmet breakfast which people rave about.
Nature lovers delight in walks along the backyard trail of The Stockade Bed and Breakfast to explore the wilderness of native foliage and wildlife.

3.    Nottoway Plantation

Nottoway Plantation & Resort is a 1850’s sugarcane estate, a AAA Four-Diamond property, and a member of Historic Hotels of America, and is the home of the South’s largest existing antebellum mansion, now stunningly restored to its original architectural design.  It is an architectural masterpiece, with the massive white columns and grand balconies standing guard over the Mississippi River. On the other side the spectacular three-story Rotunda overlooks majestic, towering oaks.  Various daily tours quench the history fanatic’s thirst for knowledge and the deluxe rooms, rich dining, and luxury amenities go hand in hand with their gracious southern hospitality and service.

4.    HH Whitney House

Even before you walk through the front door of this bed and breakfast, your hosts make you feel right at home. Whether you’re looking for a quiet weekend getaway or an action-packed visit to New Orleans, your hosts make it their business to pamper you.  Elegance is the hallmark of this beautiful Italianate-style home. The dining room features an 11-foot oak table which provides a casually elegant setting for breakfast. Eleven fireplaces grace the home, including two in the double-parlor, which features Italian marble mantelpieces. Most bathrooms feature vintage clawfoot tubs and showers.  The lush tropical garden of this B & B has been transformed since Hurricane Katrina to include a new in-ground swimming pool and hot tub. The area still provides a great setting for sipping your morning coffee, reading your favorite novel, or sharing a late-night talk with your sweetie after a long day in New Orleans.

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Foods Only Louisiana Natives Know and Love

Louisiana is known for its revelry and its food for good reason- it’s the best in the world.  The unique combinations of spices, meats and other ingredients make Louisiana dishes some of the most flavorful and opulent ones you’ll ever taste.  Some dishes have become favorites for the locals and can be expected at any Louisiana get together or dinner party. We have compiled a list of some Louisiana favorites but click here for a full list.  Grab a napkin and get ready to explore Louisiana culture through your stomach.

1.    Beignets

This delicious deep fried French doughnut made New Orleans’ Café du Monde famous.  Did you even really go to New Orleans if you didn’t check in to Cafe Du Monde?  They are sprinkled with enough powdered sugar to satisfy anyone’s sugar craving. You can also find these delectable desserts stuffed with a variety of sweet or savory ingredients like caramel or fruits.  New Orleans even has a Beignet Festival (powdered sugar heaven!), held in December, that you won’t want to miss.

2.    Pralines

The gooey caramel cookie sprinkled with caramelized pecans can be found in most corner markets in New Orleans and as the years have passed, more and more flavors have been added to the classic recipe. This sugary, buttery candy is made from butter, brown sugar and pecans, cooked in a kettle and dried on wax paper. French nuns brought these treats to New Orleans in the 1700s.They are the perfect compliment to any gift basket or Christmas gift.  The dentist may cringe at this sweet treat but your taste buds certainly won’t!

3.    Boudin

Vegetarians beware! This spicy sausage is filled with seasoned pork and rice and many locals slurp the stuffing out of the casing with one hand, while driving with the other. Boudin is served in links or in boudin balls, which are deep-fried cousins of the iconic Cajun delicacy.  Boudin comes in many flavors and varieties depending on the meats and spices that are included. Earl’s Cajun Market in Lafayette serves up excellent boudin and plate lunches. Head to Scott, Louisiana which is the Boudin Capital of the World. Stop at Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins or Don’s Specialty Meats.  Boudin can also be found on many menus throughout Louisiana.

4.    King Cake

The sweet Danish pastry is a Mardi Gras tradition and usually decorated in colored sugar of purple, green, and gold. Cakes can be plan sugar and cinnamon flavored or have a variety of stuffings like cream cheese, blueberry or other fruit filling, even chocolate or pecan.  The tradition is that whoever finds the baby, which is a tiny plastic replica of a baby, has to buy the next King Cake. The only way to find the baby is to dig in! Bon appetit!

5.    PoBoys

This is a submarine-type sandwich made with French bread. Order it “dressed” if you like your po’boy with mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles and tomato.  A Louisiana favorite comes with fried shrimp or fried oysters but you can get whatever meat you prefer inside. Try one at the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival in New Orleans, held in November. Mother’s Restaurant, also in New Orleans, serves roast beef po’boys with a type of gravy known as debris (pronounced day’-bree). Chris’ Po’boys in Lafayette is among the best restaurants in Cajun Country to satisfy your po’boy cravings.

6. Crawfish Etouffee

This is a Creole dish of rice smothered in a stew of roux, crawfish, herbs and vegetables. The roux (called a “blonde roux” for its lighter color than the kind typically used in gumbo) is a mixture of butter and flour, mixed with celery, bell peppers and onion.  In New Orleans, find crawfish étouffée at Bon Ton Café and Jacque-Imo’s. Outside the Crescent City you’ll find mouthwatering étouffée at The Chimes in Baton Rouge and at Boudreaux & Thibodaux’s in Houma.

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Top Louisiana Cajun Holiday Traditions

Louisiana is a place steeped in history and traditions and the holiday season is no exception.  Below are some of the most common Cajun and Creole holiday traditions, each morphed from ancient Louisiana tradition and culture, and each being carried on by Louisiana residents, binding them to each other and to their roots.  Click here for a full list of Cajun holiday traditions.

1.    Turducken

There are conflicting reports on the origin of this Louisiana dish.  There are supposedly records from ancient Rome that show a similar dish but according to native Louisianians, the current recipe is credited to Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme, who began preparing it in 1980.  The turducken is what it sounds like: a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with stuffing….nothing vegan about it.  It sounds pretty simple and straightforward but actually takes some skill to make the outside appear like a turkey while also preserving the character and taste of each meat.  You will find this on the table of truly Cajun families over the holidays and no one will have to ask what it is.

2.    Reveillon

Derived from the French word for “awakening,” Reveillon originally was a meal served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Early Louisiana was almost entirely Catholic, and virtually the entire community would participate in these ceremonies. Families would return from the late-night service famished and set upon a feast prepared in advance and laid out on the table or sideboard.  A typical early Reveillon menu included mostly breakfast foods— egg dishes, breads and puddings, but could also include turtle soup, oysters and grillades of veal. The dinners could last for many hours, sometimes lasting until dawn of the next day. By the turn of the century, Reveillon dinners could be found only in traditional homes, and by the 1940s the custom was all but extinct do to American holiday conventions like Christmas trees, gifts for children and shopping frenzies gradually establishing themselves. In the 1990s, however, the Reveillon tradition was “reawakened” and transformed. The organization French Quarter Festivals Inc. approached local restaurants with an idea to offer and promote special holiday menus hoping to attract more tourists. Restaurants eagerly embraced the idea, and soon so did their local regulars and out-of-town visitors.  The restaurants offering Reveillon menus this season run the gamut from old-line Creole to the most contemporary and modern. Tujague’s Restaurant, established in 1856, sets out a Reveillon of its traditional specialties — including shrimp remoulade, lobster bisque, satsuma-glazed quail with dirty rice stuffing, and Bananas Foster bread pudding. While at Vacherie Restaurant, located in the Hotel St. Marie, the four-course feast can start with seafood gumbo and end with Louisiana pecan pie of bread pudding with a whiskey sauce.

3.    Bonfires on the Mississippi

Why bonfires on Christmas Eve? Some historians believe they are a carry-down of an ancient European tradition where bonfires initially honored successful harvests and later from Christianity.  However, ask the young and the young at heart who continue the bonfire tradition today, and the most common response is that the fires illuminate the way for Santa Claus’ (or Papa Noel, as the Cajuns say) flying sleigh and eight reindeer to find the homes of local good girls and boys.  The bonfires are found on The Great River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  Every year the boast dozens of 20-feet-high towers of burning logs.  The Christmas bonfires, as locals call them, are mostly teepee-shaped, but some can be odd shapes paying tribute to the river’s heritage—shapes ranging from miniature plantation homes to tiny replica paddlewheel steamships. Bonfires are built by families, friends and co-workers who visit, cook and mingle between the fires. It’s a local celebration with an environment akin to football tailgating, and the practice has continued for generations. The bonfires are up and down the river, but the highest concentration is in St. James Parish, in and around Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina. Bonfire parties are not necessarily open to the public, but onlookers will likely be offered kind words and holiday greetings should they mingle on foot. Another option to experience the Louisiana holiday bonfire tradition is Festival of the Bonfires, held at Lutcher Recreational Park.

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Top Ranked Hospitals in Louisiana

According to a U.S. News & World Report, one Louisiana hospital is nationally ranked while four other hospitals meet national high performance standards.  This is great news considering Louisiana has had poor health ratings in the past. Louisiana has rated poorly in obesity, smoking, diabetes, and physical inactivity.  With this new high hospital rating data, hopes are high that it will counteract some of the lower health ratings.

Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans

Oschner is nationally ranked in sixspecialties: 23th in Neurology & Neurosurgery, 24th in Ear Nose and Throat,31st in Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, 40th in Nephrology and Pulmonology,and 45th in Orthopedics. The hospital is also ranked No. 1 in both the stateand the New Orleans Metro area.  Ochsner Medical Center is located onJefferson Highway, near Uptown New Orleans and includes acute and sub-acutefacilities and centers of excellence: Ochsner Cancer Institute, OchsnerMulti-Organ Transplant Center and Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute. As a767-bed acute care hospital, Ochsner Medical Center, Ochsner Medical Missionaries the opportunity to learn and provide patient care at a Magnet facilitywith three Centers of Excellence, all the while gaining exposure to complexmedical cases. This campus is also one of six training sites in the world forrobotic surgery and is nationally known for many skilled physicians. Ochsner Health System is a part of Ochsner Health System, a non-profit,academic, multi-specialty healthcare system. Their commitment to patient care,education and research, and their unique coordinated neighborhood-based systemprovides healthcare with peace of mind by putting the needs of all patientsfirst. Ochsner continuously meets the ever-changing needs of our patients andcommunity through electronically-linked hospitals and health centers. Their patients’ electronic medical records are available from any Ochsner location, allowing for the most consistent patient care, both for routine health needs and more complex medical conditions.

Our Lady of Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge

OLL is ranked No. 2 in Louisiana. The hospital has high performance rankings for five procedures and conditions: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart bypass surgery, heart failure, hip replacements and knee replacements. Our Lady of the Lake is uniquely capable of caring for a full range of illness or injury, including those that are extremely complex, for both pediatric and adult patients. Their family of services includes:

-An 800-bed hospital and the area’s only Level II Trauma Center
-A dedicated Children’s Hospital, which will transition to a freestanding hospital in 2019
-A 450-provider care network covering more than 40 specialties
-Two free-standing emergency rooms—Our Lady of the Lake Livingston and Our Lady of the Lake North
-A network of nearly 15 urgent care clinics
-Outpatient imaging and surgery centers
-Assumption Community Hospital
-Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University

They serve 35,000 inpatients and650,000 outpatients annually and are committed to building a healthy communitythrough excellence in patient care and education. A part of the FranciscanMissionaries of Our Lady Health System, Our Lady of the Lake is consistentlyawarded for compassionate care, clinical expertise, leading edge technology andinnovation.

East Jefferson General Hospital

From its earliest days, EJGH formed a bond with the community and has been proud to grow along with the communities in the East Bank of Jefferson Parish. They pledge to always offer the highest quality, compassionate healthcare to the people they serve.  EJGH Leadership is comprised of healthcare professionals with diverse specialties. They are all dedicated to bringing the community excellence in healthcare and the best overall patient experience. The nationally recognized care at EJGH is further validated through numerous organizations and accrediting bodies highly rating our services. In addition, EJGH provides its clinical outcomes to our patients as a valuable community service. Quality scores are indicators that compare EJGH quality of care to national and state averages.

Christus Health Shreveport-Bossier

CHSB is a Catholic, nonprofit system owned and operated by CHRISTUS Health, Dallas, Texas. They have provided high-quality, cost-effective care since 1894. The CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier staff includes more than 600 physicians, 1,800 employees and 200 volunteers. Our areas of specialty include cardiovascular services, oncology, orthopedic and neurological services, primary care medicine, surgical services, and women’s and children’s services.  CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier’s areas of specialty include cardiovascular services, oncology, orthopedic and neurological services, primary care and medicine, surgical services, and women’s and children’s services. CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier continues its long, proud tradition of providing the community and surrounding areas with the latest state-of-the-art technology combined with the best possible hands-on care. For more than 100 years, CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier and the Sisters of Charity have been committed to meeting the unanswered needs of the communities they serve. CHRISTUS Health’s strong commitment to mission work and community service is evident in all its work.

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