In the April NFL Draft of 1996, the Kansas City Chiefs made one of the greatest and special selections in New Orleans Saints history--with their pick in the 5th Round, 135th overall, the Chiefs pointed their arrowheads toward some kid from some "college" called Itawumba Junior College in Fulton, MS. He was a spry young man. He was a wide reciever named Joe Horn.
After spending four mediocre years with the Chiefs wearing #84, Horn signed on with a team in deep with its fans--The New Orleans Saints. Horn signed a three year contract on February 13, 2000. It was a leap of faith for the Saints, and equally so for Horn. In his first four years as a receiver with Kansas City, Joe ammased the following statistics: appeared in 49 games, 53 receptions for 879 yards and 7 touchdowns. To put those totals in perspective, Marques Colston, the 7th Round, 252nd overall pick (from the NCAA powerhouse of Hofstra University) of the Saints in this year's NFL Draft, put these numbers up in only his first year as an NFL player: appeared in 15 games, 75 receptions for 1,093 yards and 8 touchdowns. Remember that Colston was inactive for two games. The 15th game includes last weekend's playoff victory against the Eagles.
As you can see, Joe Horn was the wide receiving equivalent of a football bat--he had no business in the business. However, the Saints, under a new coaching and managerial regime of Jim Haslett and Randy Mueller, took a flyer on Horn and gave him a three year deal and the number 87. The rest, as cliche' idiots say, is history. Horn went on to make his name a household one, appearing in 102 games, piling up 523 receptions for 7,622 yards and 50 touchdowns. Joe was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004. He has made countless memories and cell phone calls for the fans of Southeastern Louisiana. He is a New Orleans Saints icon...ranking up there with the likes of Archie Manning, Dalton Hilliard and Morton Anderson. I still don't know what he's trying to accomplish with that first down and touchdouwn dance he does, but it's the best epileptic seizure I've ever seen.
However...this season...this season has been forgettable. In such a season where the Saints have realized everything dream-like, Horn has been an afterthought. Unfortunately, he's been bothered by the same groin problem since early in his Saints career, and can't seem to shake it. I hate to even think the inevitable, but it seems as though one of our most revered Saints is fading, and fading fast. Horn's been out for the latter part of the season--the part where the Saints could have used him most. However, the performance of the receiving corps and the rest of the team on the field has rendered Horn a thought in the back of our minds amidst all the pandelerium and excitement that is this 2006 season. Joe missed last weekend's bout with Philly, after being labeled "questionable" on the injury report. He's "questionable" again:
Payton said wide receiver Joe Horn, who has missed the last five games — including the team’s playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week — participated in a portion of team drills Wednesday.
Horn had missed every practice since Jan. 8 because of a partially-torn groin and is questionable for Sunday’s game with the Bears.
“I felt like I was running pretty good today, it was good running out the routes,” said Horn, a four-time Pro Bowl pick. “I have to show coach Payton that I’m 100 percent and that I can go. He wants badly for me to play, but I have to show that I’m ready running wise.”
Guh. Partially torn groin? Is there such a thing? I think that's like being "kinda" preagnant. Will Joe Horn return this weekend? It's "questionable." Will he return if the Saints make a Super Bowl charge? Again, it's "questionable." Will he return to form next year in that familiar Saints #87? I'm loathe to admit it...but, it's "questionable."
There is no "question," however, on the fact that despite his murky future for the remainder of the year and his Saints career, Joe Horn is one of the most loved, cherished, and fun players I've ever watched in a Saints uniform. We love you, Joe. And we sincerely hope you can work on that groin and get back to your old self again, instead of just being old. In any event, no one will ever wear the #87 in Saints black and gold again...unless it's Joe himself.