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 special teams players....
1. Morten Andersen (1982-94)
One of 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, Andersen is the Saints and NFL’s all-time scoring leader with a then-club record of 121 points in 1987. A six-time Pro Bowl pick during his time in New Orleans, the “Great Dane” missed just four field goals in both 1985 (31 of 35) and ’86 (26 of 30). He’s the franchise leader in games played with 196 (200 counting playoffs) and scoring (1,318 points). He made 302 of 389 field-goal attempts with the Saints.
2. Thomas Morstead (2009-13)
The club’s all-time leader among punters at 47.1 yards per kick (Mark Royals is next at 45.8), Morstead became one of only seven players in NFL history to average 50 yards a punt for the season when he averaged 50.1 yards in 2012 en route to a Pro Bowl berth. Is also an excellent kickoff man and perfectly executed the “Ambush” onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV, which the Saints recovered and used to gain the momentum for a win over the Colts.
3. Michael Lewis (2001-06)
Despite having no college playing experience, Lewis is the franchise’s all-time leader in punt return yards (1,482) and kickoff return yards (5,903) and ranks second in punt return average (10.4) and kickoff return average (24.3) for players with a minimum of 50 returns. A beer truck driver before he earned a roster spot with the Saints, Lewis returned both a punt and kickoff for scores against the Redskins in 2002 en route to earning a spot in the Pro Bowl and AP first-team All-Pro honors. He had four returns for touchdowns in his career.
4. Fred McAfee (1991-93, 2000-06)
McAfee, who was known around the Saints’ organization as “Fast Freddie,” was considered one of the NFL’s top kick coverage men during his career with the Saints, Steelers and Bucs. A running back by trade, he was a fearless tackler on special teams and also returned kickoffs although he was known more for his tackling ability. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2002 during his second stint with the Saints, two years after he was brought back to help the sagging kick coverage units under first-year head coach Jim Haslett.
5. Steve Gleason (2000-06)
Gleason was, like McAfee, a fierce competitor on special teams. He had a franchise-record four blocked punts -- topped by the famous “Block Heard Around the World” in the first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina on Sept. 25, 2006. Just 90 seconds into the game, Gleason busted through cleanly to block a Falcons punt and Curtis Deloatch scooped up the bouncing ball and scored a touchdown to set the tone for an emotional 23-3 victory. Gleason has been battling ALS since January 2011.