Saints Mount Rushmore Plus One: The defensive backs

It took two sculptors, 14 years, hundreds of men and thousands of tons of dynamite deep in the heart of the Black Hills region of South Dakota to build Mount Rushmore, which celebrates the great contributions presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

The Advocate is taking the same skill, precision, passion and thought to forever immortalize past and present members of the New Orleans Saints. In this 10-week "The New Orleans Saints Mount Rushmore Plus One Series" (it's "plus one" because we have some extra explosives left over from last year's Mardi Gras) The Advocate lists the top Saints at the positions of quarterback, running back, tight end, receiver, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, defensive back, coach and general manager.

Here is a look at the defensive backs....


1. Dave Waymer (1980-89)
A second-round draft pick, this cornerback became a safety late in his career. He is the club’s all-time leader with 37 interceptions and was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1996. Waymer, a Pro Bowl pick in 1987, led the team in interceptions five times in 10 seasons. He had six picks in 1985 and 1989 and posted a career-high nine in 1989. Waymer battled drug addiction during his NFL career and died of a heart attack induced by cocaine use at the age of 34 in 1993.

2. Sammy Knight (1997-2002)
An undrafted free agent, Knight won a roster spot and worked his way into the starting lineup at free safety as a heavy hitter and ball hawk. He played six seasons at both safety spots and ranks third on the team’s all-time interceptions list with 28. He returned four interceptions for touchdowns, which is a Saints record. He led the team in picks four times -- getting six twice and five twice and also had five when he tied for the team lead in 2002.

3. Tommy Myers (1972-81)
One of the franchise’s early defensive stars, Myers was a steady player throughout his career. He started 120 of 136 career games played at free safety and was a Pro Bowl pick in 1979. He ranks second in club history with 36 interceptions, one behind Waymer. Myers led the club in picks five times, including three straight years from 1978-80. He holds the franchise record for most interception return yards with 621 and had a 97-yard TD return in 1978, a club mark that stood for 31 years.

4. Gene Atkins (1987-93)
One of the franchise’s biggest hitters in the secondary, Atkins played free and strong safety for the Saints in their glory years when they ranked second in the NFL in fewest yards allowed and in scoring defense in 1991 and 1992. Atkins, who was nicknamed “Mean Gene,” ranks fourth in club history with 21 interceptions. He tied the club record shared by four others by picking off three passes in the division-clinching 1991 season finale at Arizona. He had five interceptions, forced four fumbles and recovered two that season.

5. Roman Harper (2006-13)
The only two-time Pro Bowl pick among defensive backs in Saints’ history, Harper, who was released by the club in February, was the second player picked by Sean Payton after he took over as coach in 2006. Harper started 104 of 108 games played with the Saints and had seven interceptions. He also broke up 53 passes, with a career-high 11 in 2012, and had 17 sacks -- including 7.5 in 2011. Harper, who also forced 15 fumbles, led the team in total tackles from 2006-13 with 743.