Saints Countdown to Kickoff 2020: A Trio of RBs that Electrified the Dome
The New Orleans Saints are less than 36 days away from their Week 1 clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here is a look at three Saints that have sported the numbers 36, 35, and 34.
#36: Rueben Mayes, RB (1986-1990)
The Washington State Cougars RB claimed consensus All-American honors in 1984 before being selected by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 1986 draft. During his rookie campaign, Mayes rushed for over 1,300 yards and 8TDs en route to the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honor. Mayes became the second Saints RB to claim the Offensive Rookie of the Year award during the 1980s, joining George Rogers (1981).
After a stellar rookie season, Mayes earned his second Pro-Bowl nod, rushing for over 900 yards and 5TDs in a strike-shortened season. However, injuries plagued the rest of Mayes career as he missed the 1989 season because of an Achilles injury. Mayes retired in 1991 but attempted a comeback with Seattle a year later. He ended his Saints career rushing for 3,408 yards and 23 TDs. The Saints elected Mayes to the team’s Hall of Fame in 2004.
#35: Earl Campbell, RB (1984-1985)
One of the most dominant RBS in NFL History, Campbell led the league in rushing yards in each of his first three NFL seasons. After spending 6.5 seasons with the Houston Oilers, the Saints traded for Campbell in 1984, reuniting him with HC Bum Phillips. Surrendering a first-round pick, the Saints created a Heisman backfield of Campbell and the 1981 Rookie of the Year George Rogers. Campbell’s career in New Orleans never took off, and he retired following the 1985 season. Campbell rushed for 833 yards and 1 TD during his time in the bayou and finished just short of 10,000 career rushing yards.
#34: Ricky Williams, RB (1999-2001)
During the 1999 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints traded eight total draft picks to Washington for the rights to the 5th pick selecting RB Ricky Williams. The Heisman Trophy winning RB famously posed in a wedding dress with Saints HC Mike Ditka for ESPN The Magazine. The title was “For Better or Worse” before his rookie season. With expectations at an all-time high after trading his entire draft for one player, Ditka had Williams carry the ball 40 times in his NFL debut.
After a 3-13 season in 1999, the Saints fired Ditka and finished 10-6 the following season, winning their first-ever playoff game. Williams rushed for 1,000 yards in 10 games during the improbable 2000 season for the Saints and followed it with another 1,000-yard performance in 2001. Before the 2002 season, the Saints traded Williams to the Dolphins for four total draft picks, including two first-round picks.
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