NFL

Saints unveil Ring of Honor in Superdome

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NEW ORLEANS (AP)

The names Archie Manning, Rickey Jackson and Willie Roaf now have a permanent place in the Superdome, ringing the home field of the NFL team with which they spent the best years of their careers.

The Saints formally unveiled their own ''Ring of Honor'' at halftime of Sunday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys, and the three former stars were on the field for the occasion along with Saints owner Tom Benson.

Before the game, general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the three players, noting, ''We have a number of deserving people that will be in the Ring of Honor and yet these three gentlemen, I think, stand above all others.''

Their names are the first in the 46-year history of the Saints to be affixed to the facade of the Superdome's upper deck. The crowd cheered when each players was introduced on the field and while montages of their careers were shown on stadium video boards.

''I'm truly honored to be in this initial class,'' said Manning, who played quarterback in New Orleans from 1971-82. ''You know, this team has been good for several years. All my nights in the Superdome weren't always memorable and my afternoons weren't always great. But I'll always remember this night, I promise you that. It's really special. It's special to me. It's special to my family.''

Jackson and Roaf have both been inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the past four years. Jackson played linebacker for the Saints from 1981-93, while Roaf played left tackle for New Orleans from 1993-2001.

''I put the Saints (Ring of Honor) right up there with the Hall of Fame,'' said Jackson, who was named to six Pro Bowls and was a defensive leader on New Orleans' first four playoff teams. ''All the things I have in life, I consider the Saints part of it. So I would like to thank all the Saints fans, and thank Mr. Benson and his family and just: Go Saints.''

Jackson was the first Saint to enter the Hall of Fame in 2010. Roaf, named to 11 Pro Bowls during a 13-year career in New Orleans and Kansas City, was inducted in 2012.

Roaf, who grew up in Louisiana and played for Louisiana Tech, said he followed the careers of Manning and Jackson growing up, and was honored to be included with them among the first names on the Ring of Honor.

''I just would like to say how special this is and thank Mr. Benson and his family for drafting me from Louisiana Tech,'' Roaf said. ''I'm just so grateful I got a chance to play close to home and my family and friends, a lot of them are here right now.''

Manning represented the Saints in two Pro Bowls and was once named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1978. In addition to being the Saints' career passing leader until current quarterback Drew Brees eclipsed his 21,734 yards, he also rushed for 2,058 yards and 18 TDs. Manning also settled in New Orleans, where he raised his Super Bowl-winning sons, Payton and Eli.

''Archie and his wife, Olivia, and family have been great representatives of the city, great advocates of the city, for 40 years,'' Loomis said. ''But make no mistake about it: Archie Manning was a great football player. ... If he played today, he would be an elite quarterback.''

Tagged: Willie Roaf, Saints

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