The New Orleans Saints are 61 days away from their Week 1 clash with the Pack. Here is a look at one of the greatest players in New Orleans Saints history to wear #61: C Joel Hilgenberg
Joel Hilgenberg, 59, played 10 NFL seasons, all with the New Orleans Saints. He and his brother, Jay, attended and played football at the University of Iowa. The New Orleans Saints selected Joel in the fourth round of the 1984 NFL Draft.
Through the first three years of his NFL career, New Orleans primarily used Hilgenberg as a reserve OL appearing in 31 games. In 1987, he started 12 games at C as the Saints clinched their first-ever winning season and first-ever playoff appearance. Hilgenberg would spend the next seven years of his NFL career starting at C and RG for the New Orleans Saints. He appeared in all 16 regular-season games for five consecutive years.
An undersized OL at only 250 lbs, Hilgenberg made up for his lack of size by being technically sound. In his career, Joel would play 142 games, 15th all-time in franchise history. He served as a starter on the OL in the first four playoff appearances in Saints history (1987, 1990, 1991, 1992).
In 1992, the NFL named Hilgenberg to his only Pro-Bowl. He started all 16 regular-season games and one playoff game that season for the Saints. The following year the Saints signed Joel’s brother, 7x Pro Bowler, Jay. It was the first time the brothers had played on the same team since 1980, Jay’s senior year at Iowa. Both brothers retired from football following the 1993 season.
In 2011, he joined the Green Bay Packers coaching staff as an Assistant OL /Offensive quality control coach. Hilgenberg resigned from the position in April 2014.
The New Orleans Saints inducted Joel into the franchise’s Hall of Fame in 2006. He played in 142 NFL regular-season games for the New Orleans Saints, making 97 starts in 10 years.
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