The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football team based out of New Orleans, Louisiana. The team competes in the NFL as a member of the National Football Conference South division. Since 1975, the team has played their home games at Caesars Superdome, after using Tulane STadium for its first eight seasons.
The team was initially founded by John W. Mecom Jr., David Dixon, and the city of New Orleans on November 1, 1966. The team formally entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1967. The team name was inspired after the jazz music heritage of New Orleans and the spiritual hymn, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
For several decades, The Saints were among the NFL’s least successful franchises, where they went 20 consecutive seasons without a winning record or qualifying for the playoffs. In fact, their first playoff win would not be until 2000, their 34th season. But the team’s fortunes improved in the 21st century which saw them become a more consistent presence in the postseason. Their greatest season to date remains the 2009 season, when they won Super Bowl XLIV, which was also the team’s first Super Bowl appearance, along with the New York Jets.
About Superdome Stadium
The Caesars Superdome, once known as the Louisiana Superdome, is a multi-purpose stadium located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana. It is the home stadium of the New Orleans Saints of the NFL.
Plans for the stadium were initially drawn up in 1967 by the New Orleans architectural firm of Cirtis and Davis. And the building opened in 1975. It was known for having a steel frame that covered a 13-acre expanse and a 273-foot dome made of a lamellar multi-ringed frame. This made it the largest fixed domed structure in the world.
Since it opened, it has routinely hosted major sporting events, including the New Orleans Saints home games. This includes hosting seven Super Bowl games (and an eight Super Bowl in 2025), five NCAA championships in men’s college basketball. And the Sugar Bowl has been played at the Superdome every year since 1975, which is one of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games of the College Football Playoff (CFP).
It also hosts the Bayou Classic, which is a famous rivalry game between the HBCU’s Southern University and Grambling State University.
And on a more serious note, the Superdome also housed thousands of people who sought shelter from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And when the venue suffered massive damage due to the storm, it was closed for several months and reopened after major renovations on September 25.
The team’s history began when local sports entrepreneur Dave Dixon and a local civic group were seeking an NFL franchise. At the time, they had been searching for over five years and had hosted record crowds for NFL exhibition games. And finally, on November 1, 1966, the NFL officially awarded the city of New Orleans an expansion franchise. The team name came from a spiritual hymn, “When the Saints Go Marching In”, and the city’s jazz heritage was heavily associated with the new franchise.
Initially, the announcement was intended to be delayed until November 1, to coincide with All Saints’ Day. And while some thought it would have been a great idea, it was decided that the new team would need all the help it could get.
One interesting fact about the team is that the colors, black and gold, symbolized Mecom’s and New Orleans’ strong ties to the oil industry.
The Saints’s inaugural game came on September 17, 1967, and started with Saints receiver John Gilliam returning the opening kickoff 94-yards for a touchdown. The team lose 27-13 to the Los Angeles Rams at Tulane Stadium with over 80,000 in attendance. This game was one of the few highlights of their 3-11 season, which was an NFL record for most wins by an expansion team.
2017 season to Today
The 2017 season started with an 0-2 record, but the team proceeded to win their next 8 games en route to a strong 11-5 finish. This also led to their first NFC South title since 2011. The turnaround was largely attributed to their draft, where they drafted cornerback Marshon Lattimore, offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, safety Marcus Williams, and running back Alvin Kamara. These picks were considered one of the best draft classes in NFL history.
After this, the defense drastically improved, as they allowed just 20.4 points per game while finishing third in the league with 20 interceptions. The offense finished second in yards per game (391.2) and fourth in points per game (28.0).
Recently, on January 25, 2022, Sean Payton announced to the team that he was stepping away as head coach after 15 seasons with the team. During his tenure as head coach, the Saints went 152-89 in the regular season and 9-8 in the postseason.
It’s hard to talk about a team with a story like the New Orleans Saints without bringing up their various divisional rivals. Here are some details about the hottest rivalries within their division.
The team’s oldest rivalry is undeniably against the Atlanta Falcons. Currently, this rivalry is led by the Falcons by a slim 53-51 margin. And what makes this interesting is that the two clubs joined the NFL within a year of one another as expansion teams and have played each other twice a season since the Saints joined the league in 1967.
The rivalry against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been developing since 2002. And currently the Saints are winning the rivalry with a strong 38-21 average.
The interesting part here is how the teams actually played against one another as non-division rivals. Between 1977 – 2001, were the only years that the teams did not play. And this includes 12 years in a row from 1981-1992. Which is also the record for most consecutive years in which two non-division teams competed against one another.
One of the most notable pre-division games include a 1977 matchup where Tampa Bay defeated the Aints after a 0-26 start overall.
The Saints and the Carolina Panthers quickly became rivals since Carolina joined the league in 1995. The Saints currently lead this series with a slim 28-25 record, that includes a Wild Card victory in 2017.