Everyone knows about the Indianapolis Colts Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne’s connection to New Orleans, and most everyone knows that Drew Brees starred collegiately in Indiana, but who else on the Saints has connections to the Hoosier state? Let’s take a look.
Drew Brees: Brees arrived on the Purdue University campus, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1997 amid much fanfare. He spent his freshman season backing up senior Billy Dicken, seeing mop-up duty in seven games.Brees took over the starting job in 1998 and proceeded to shatter every Boilermaker single-season passing record on his way to being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
His junior year wasn’t quite as productive statistically, but he did average 325 passing yards a game and finished fourth in the Heisman voting. 2001 saw Brees break every relevant Big Ten Conference passing record, and lead the Boilermakers to their first Rose Bowl since 1967. Needless to say, he’s an Indianapolis sports legend, one who garners respect from even the most ardent Purdue detractors. If you were to take a poll among Indianapolis residents as to whom their favorite quarterbacks are, Peyton and Eli Manning would rank first and second, but Brees would be a close third.
Tracy Porter: Porter made a name for himself almost as soon as he walked onto the Indiana University campus. In his first collegiate game — starting as a true freshman — Porter had four pass breakups, a solo tackle, and two interceptions, the second ending in a 96-yard touchdown return. He was named All-Big Ten Conference first team his senior year, and finished his career second in IU history with 16 interceptions. He also became the first player to return a punt, an interception, and a fumble for touchdowns during his career. Porter’s late-game interception of Brett Favre in last weekend’s NFC Championship game sent the game into overtime and helped the Saints reach their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Courtney Roby: Roby’s ties to the state of Indiana run deep. He attended middle school just outside the Broad Ripple Village at Eastwood Middle School, then went to Lawrence North High School for his first two years of high school. Roby transferred to rival North Central High School for his junior and senior seasons, and was an All-State selection in both football and track. He then went down to Bloomington, Indiana and starred for the Hoosiers as a wideout and kick returner. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in career receptions and yards.
Originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft, Roby spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals before signing with the Colts before the start of the 2008 season. He caught six balls for 123 yards in the preseason, and impressed on special teams, returning nine kicks for 334 yards, an average of 37.1 yards per return. He ran one back for a 103-yard touchdown in the final preseason game against the Bengals, winning the starting nod on opening night against the Bears. Despite returning five kicks for 100 yards in the Colts 29-13 loss, Roby was released, along with Ed Johnson, the following Tuesday. He’s been the Saints primary kick returner all season, averaging over 27 yards per return, and scoring a touchdown.
Paul Spicer: Spicer grew up Indianapolis and attended Northwest High School on the city’s near-Westside in the early 90’s. He spent two seasons playing for the College of DuPage, where he was a JUCO All-American, then played two years at Saginaw Valley State. In 1998 Spicer was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seattle Seahawks, but was released before playing in a regular season game. He then spent the remainder of the year playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League. He made it back to the NFL as a practice squad player for the Detroit Lions in 1999 before latching on with the Jacksonville Jaguars before the start of the 2000 season.
The 295 pound defensive end spent nine years in Jacksonville before getting cut prior to the start of this season. He signed with New Orleans, but was released in September. When New Orleans lost Charles Grant in early January, they re-signed the Indianapolis Public Schools product. He’s yet to register a tackle this season.
Jeff Charleston: Many Colts fans may only vaguely remember the golden-locked Charleston, but he was a productive member of the 2007 squad. Charleston started in place of an injured Robert Mathis for the final three games of the season, finishing with 42 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in 13 games. The Colts cut him before the start of the 2008 season, and was immediately picked up by the Saints. He has 10 tackles this year in a backup role.
There’s even some interesting ties on the Saints coaching staff:
Sean Payton, Head Coach: Payton’s ties to Indiana are stronger than some
may think. He spent two years in Terre Haute, Indiana (the home of the Colts training camp) coaching the running backs at Indiana State University (1990-91), and while there, he met, and married, a Hoosier. Beth Payton is from Morocco, Indiana (it’s near…well, nothing. About halfway between Lafayette, Indiana and Gary, Indiana, west of I-65 is probably the best way to pinpoint it). Payton was also the Co-Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach at Miami of Ohio University under late IU head coach Terry Hoeppner.
Joe Vitt, Assistant Head Coach/Linebacker Coach: Vitt actually got his start in coaching 1979 when he was given a job by Jim Irsay‘s father, Robert Irsay, as the assistant strength coach for the Baltimore Colts. He only spent three years with the team, never making it Indianapolis, but still, maybe he could give Jonathan Vilma some bad advice in order to repay the Irsay family. Just a thought.
Mike Mallory, Assistant Special Teams Coach: Indy residents should recognize the last name immediately. Mike Mallory is the son of former Indiana coaching legend Bill Mallory. Mike got his start in coaching as graduate assistant under his father in the late 1980’s.
Whether you’re an Indy resident who follows the Colts, or someone simply interested in all the story-lines coming out of this year’s Super Bowl, keep checking back with funcityfinder.com on a daily basis.