Former running back Deuce McAllister and Saints owner Tom Benson have been elected to the Saints Hall of Fame.
The hall, which runs independently from the club, made the announcement on Friday. Formal inductions are scheduled Sept. 21.
McAllister played eight seasons for the Saints after they made him a first-round pick out of Mississippi in 2001. He retired as the leading rusher franchise history with 6,096 yards and as the club’s all-time touchdown leader with 55.
“It’s an honor for me to be recognized by the Hall of Fame for my contributions but really this is about my teammates,” McAllister said. “They were the reason I was able to accomplish the things I was to accomplish during my career. It’s an honor be inducted with Mr. Benson, who didn’t have to do what he did when he bought the team back in 1985, but he did it because he loves New Orleans.”
Benson, a New Orleans native, has owned the Saints since 1985. All nine of New Orleans’ playoff appearances and lone Super Bowl title have come since then.
“You all didn’t always agree with me, and I always didn’t agree with you,” Benson said to members of the media who made up the selection committee that voted him into the hall. “It’s been a wonderful 25 years for me, and I hope it’s been a wonderful 25 years for you and our fans. We’re looking for better things to come. We’re looking to be better, and we’re looking to be stronger.
“I look forward to the 2012 season and I especially look forward to making history,” Benson continued. “This is our goal right now, to win the Super Bowl in our own stadium. We’re going to work hard to accomplish that under trying circumstances. There’s an old saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. We’re going to be tough.”
The hall is also naming a “legacy gallery” for former special teams standout Steve Gleason, a fan favorite who is struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Gleason may be best known for blocking a punt in the Saints’ first game played in the Superdome after the stadium had undergone extensive renovations to repair damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. He married a New Orleans native and settled in the city after he retired in 2008 and has remained popular with fans as well as Saints coaches, officials and current players. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in early 2011, and has since initiated a campaign to improve the lives of those living with ALS.
“In my career, I didn’t necessarily fit the mold of an NFL player but I always was creative enough to find a way to fit in,” said Gleason, a world traveler and environmental activist who during his playing days wore his brown hair long and would show up at practice driving a truck that ran on vegetable oil. “I thank the Hall of Fame for being creative enough to find a way to include me, even if it is through the side entrance.
“This city has become my home. And this organization is woven into the fabric of this city,” Gleason said. “Luckily for me, I get to enjoy all of the beautiful parts of this city, and that’s because of this organization.”