The New Orleans Saints are 56 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 #56: LB Pat Swilling.
Pat Swilling, 56, played twelve NFL seasons, seven with the New Orleans Saints. A standout college pass rusher, at Georgia Tech, Swilling set an NCAA record with 7 sacks against North Carolina State. He left Georgia Tech as a first-team All-American selection and set the school record for sacks in a season (15).
The New Orleans Saints selected Swilling in the third round of the 1986 NFL Draft. As a rookie he played in all 16 games recording 4 sacks. The following year, in a lockout shortened season, Swilling recorded 10.5 sacks in 12 games. He would go on to record 10+ sacks in four consecutive seasons (1988-1993).
Swilling's rookie year, 1986, the Saints formed the greatest LB corps in NFL History, "The Dome Patrol". NFL Network's all-time best LB group consisted of Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Vaughan Johnson, and Sam Mills. The group stayed together form 1986-1992. In that span the group combined for 18 Pro-Bowl appearances, including all four LB making the Pro-Bowl in 1992. This remains the only time in NFL history that all four LBs from the same team were selected to the same Pro-Bowl roster as starters.
In 1991, Swilling had his best season as a pro, recording 17 sacks (Led NFL), 1 FR, and a pick-six. The former Yellow Jacket was awarded the AP Defensive Player of the Year award. Swilling also was elected to his second of four consecutive Pro-Bowls and the NFL's All-Pro first-team. Two years later the Saints traded Swilling to the Detroit Lions for a 1st and 4th draft picks. New Orleans would use those picks to select future Hall of Fame OT Willie Roaf and FB Lorenzo Neal.
Swilling would go onto play 5 more NFL seasons after his departure from New Orleans. He made the 1993 Pro-Bowl in his first season with the Lions and recorded 10+ sacks for the final time in 1995 with the Oakland Raiders. Swilling ended his career with 490 total tackles, 107.5 sacks, and 11 FR.
From 2001-2004, Swilling served as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He served for three years with assignments on House Education, Retirement, and Transportation committees. In 2009, Swilling was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame. He and "Dome Patrol" teammate Vaughan Johnson were elected into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2000.
Follow Saints News Network’s Writer, Brendan Boylan, on Twitter & Instagram at @btboylan.