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When New Orleans was granted an expansion team by the NFL to become the 16th team in that league, it happened on November 1, 1966. November 1 is All Saints’ Day in the Catholic church. As a nod to the day, and out of respect for the large Catholic community in New Orleans, team leadership asked the Archbishop Phillip Hannan of the Archdiocese of New Orleans for his input and opinion on the idea of naming the team “the Saints”, fearing that using the name might be viewed as sacrilegious. The Archbishop stated that he saw no problem with the use of the name, and it is reported that he loved the name. He loved it so much that he wrote a team prayer. art of the prayer goes “…Our Heavenly Father, who has instructed us that the ‘saints by faith conquered kingdoms…and overcame lions,’ grant our Saints an increase of faith and strength so that they will not only overcome the Lions but also the Bears, the Rams, the Giants, and even those awesome people in Green Bay.
I’ve also heard it rumored that when the Archbishop was talking to the Saints organization about this, he had a feeling that they would need all the help that they could get, which does seem appropriate for the many years of less-than-stellar play that the Saints had in the earlier years. On a side note, the Saints colors are black and gold. When the Saints came into being in 1966, New Orleans was a large oil town (aka “black gold”). One Shell Square (built by the oil giant Shell) remains the tallest structure in New Orleans and many other oil companies have had large offices in New Orleans before the oil crisis of the 1970’s. Also, the first owner of the Saints was John Meachum who was in the oil business, so that was an additional reason for the oil hint. The Saints have always been the perennial underdogs for most of their history. Back in the earlier years those fans that even went to a game wore bags over their heads.