Did the Saints Gain Their Name From Being Founded on All Saints Day?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The Saints got their name because they were founded on All Saint’s Day.

Dave Dixon passed away in August of 2010. Dixon was a major part, heck, you could say he was the driving force (his obituaries say it) of the Saints getting a professional football franchise, just as he helped get the Superdome built. Dixon is all the way in the right of this photo of then-Saints owner John W. Mecom Jr (on the left) and then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle (in the middle).

New Orleans getting a football team was announced on November 1, 1966. As you might well know, November 1 is a Catholic holiday known as All Saints Day and is a big deal in New Orleans (which has a large Catholic population). So as the story goes, the team got its name (which was not official until January of 1967) due to the team getting announced on All Saints Day.

Now, this is a bit tricky, because clearly, yes, the holiday DOES play a role in the name of the team. But just what role it has is the question.

Dixon had thought of the name “Saints” years earlier, when hearing the famous song “When the Saints Come Marching In.” Dixon had the name of the team already in place when they got the news that New Orleans was going to get an NFL franchise – news that the owners got about a week BEFORE the announcement. Dixon’s idea was to push the announcement back until All Saints Day. So while yes, the holiday did play a role, it played the role of confirming the name Dixon already had in mind for the team.

Dixon even went to Archbishop Philip M. Hannan for permission to call the team the Saints. That likely happened after the announcement, though (Dixon never specifically said either way, but I presume that was more of a matter of him just thinking it was clear).

By the way, there actually was a public vote over the name – although that was likely more of a formality than anything, as Saints had already been floated out there so the public latched on to it quickly.

So I think enough of the Saints’ name came from stuff other than All Saints Day that I think it is okay to go with a false on this one.

The legend is…

STATUS: False

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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