Saints elect three to hall of fame

Updated: March 30, 2004, 8:42 PM ET
ESPN

NEW ORLEANS -- Steve Sidwell spent 21 years in the NFL as a coach, 17 of them as a defensive coordinator.

During all that time, Sidwell said he never saw a group of players and coaches like those he worked with from 1986 to 1994 with the New Orleans Saints.

"I had 37 years in coaching and really my time here was the most special of all," Sidwell said Tuesday. "That team was unique. Everybody, players and coaches, we were all rowing in the same direction."

Those were some of the best seasons for the Saints and some of the best defenses the team ever had, and it earned Sidwell a spot in the Saints' Hall of Fame.

Sidwell and two-time Pro Bowl running back Ruben Mayes have been elected to the Hall. The pair, along with former Times-Picayune sports editor Bob Roesler, will be inducted in late November. Roesler was the winner of the Joe Gemelli Fleur De Lis Award, in recognition of his contributions to professional football in New Orleans.

Under Sidwell, the Saints' defense was ranked first in points allowed twice (1991, 92), first in passing defense twice (1992-93) and first in rushing defense in 1989.

During each season Sidwell was the Saints defensive coordinator, at least one defensive player went to the Pro Bowl. In 1992, the entire starting linebacking group -- Rickey Jackson, Vaughan Johnson, Sam Mills and Pat Swilling, made the Pro Bowl.

"We had an extraordinarily talented group," Sidwell said. "All you had to do was get that group going in the right direction."

Sidwell, now retired, lives in Massachusetts.

Mayes suffered repeated injuries during his five seasons with the Saints (1986-90), but still ranks third on the team's all-time rushing list with 3,408 yards on 837 carries. He scored 23 rushing touchdowns during his New Orleans career.

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