Saints News & Notes - 6/24/06

After spending the entire 2005 season away from their home base in New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, the Saints will be on the move once again. But in this case, they hope it's only for one month. Saints' officials announced Thursday they will hold summer training camp in Jackson, Miss., about 185 miles north of New Orleans.

The Saints held the last three training camps under former coach Jim Haslett at the club's regular-season training facility in Metairie.

The team officially announced it has a four-year agreement to hold training camp at Millsaps College, which they hope will broaden the franchise's fan base and help new coach Sean Payton build team unity.
"What can we do to enhance team-building and create the right environment?" Saints general manager Mickey Loomis asked. "With a new staff, opening the Sean Payton era, it's important we get away and develop that bunker mentality."

"We believe by having camp away, it's good for building a bond for coaches and owners and players," owner Tom Benson said. "We want these to be the Mississippi Saints -- as well as the New Orleans Saints and the Louisiana Saints -- and this is a major start in that direction.

"We have a large fan base in Mississippi and the whole Gulf Coast region, and it's very important for us, today more than ever, that we have a regional team," he said.

Millsaps, a Division III school, and the Saints will split the cost of putting on the camp, which is expected to be around $400,000. The deal runs through the 2009 season.

Last summer, the Saints held their annual Black and Gold Scrimmage in Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium -- which will be the site of the Saints' exhibition game with the Indianapolis Colts on Aug. 26.
The Saints will hold 35 practices from July 28-Aug. 25, the day before they play the Colts. The stadium is located adjacent to the downtown campus.

School officials said players will be housed in an 11-year-old dormitory and the team will have the use of two natural grass fields as well as Millsaps' stadium -- which has the same artificial surface as the Superdome. "The idea that you're going to leave families and go somewhere for a certain number of weeks to work on one thing, it's somewhat fundamental I guess," Payton said last month. "It's beneficial from the standpoint that it develops closeness, a little bit of team.

"The sacrifices that we ask them to make, we're all making. So the idea of just getting your dorm key, putting it on your shoelace or around your neck and going away for however many weeks is somewhat appealing."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Former Saints wide receiver Eric Martin, a seventh-round draft pick who starred for the team from 1985-93, was one of eight all-time sports greats inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame last weekend.
Martin, a fearless receiver who still holds club records for catches (532), receiving yards (7,854) and receiving touchdowns (48), was selected by a 30-member panel of the sponsoring Louisiana Sports Writers Association. He was inducted during a June 24 ceremony in Natchitoches, La. Martin is the ninth person with ties to the Saints to be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. The others are Danny Abramowicz, Jim Finks, Bobby Hebert, Dalton Hilliard, Rickey Jackson, Archie Manning, Sam Mills and Jim Mora.

Martin, who finished his NFL career with 553 catches for 8,161 yards and 49 TDs after playing the 1993 season with the Kansas City Chiefs, was the 27th player selected in the 1985 draft.
Before being chosen by the Saints, Martin was a record-breaking wide receiver at LSU from 1982-84. Even though he played running back as a freshman in 1981, he left the school as the Southeastern Conference's all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,625 yards.

--Saints tackle Jammal Brown, a second-year pro, was arrested on one count of domestic abuse battery on June 22 after his wife called police from their Mandeville, La., home. St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. George Bonnett said deputies received a phone call from Brown's wife just before 11 a.m. Brown wasn't home when the officers arrived, but returned as the investigation was being completed. "I can certainly say it was a physical altercation," said Bonnett. "We know they had a disagreement that escalated into a physical disagreement."

Bonnett said Brown was "very cooperative" and was taken into custody without incident. Brown posted a $5,000 bond and was released by mid-afternoon. The charge is a misdemeanor. Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said the team was aware of the incident and was looking into the altercation. He said the team would have no further comment until its security department completed its investigation.

A 6-foot-6, 313-pounder, Brown started 13 games in 2005 after the Saints took him with the 13th pick in the draft. He was moved from right tackle to the left side when new coach Sean Payton remodeled his offensive line this spring.

--Saints running back Deuce McAllister is one of three Gulf Coast-area athletes who are being recognized for their efforts in helping the region recover from Hurricane Katrina. The Sporting News has named McAllister, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Chicago Bulls guard Chris Duhon as winners of its annual "Good Guy" award. McAllister, who was born in Lena, Miss., has directed money and resources to the region and plans to aid New Orleans' educational system and its football programs.

Manning, a New Orleans native, and brother Eli were among the first athletes to fly relief supplies into Louisiana. Duhon, a native of Slidell, La., organized a relief effort in Chicago that sent a truckload of supplies to his hometown soon after the hurricane.

--The Saints added a fifth quarterback to their depth chart by signing Jason Fife, who played this spring with the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena Football League, to a two-year contract.
A 6-4, 225-pounder from Oregon, Fife started 11 games as a rookie in 2006. He completed 207 of 357 passes for 2,221 yards and 41 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. In addition, Fife led the Gladiators in rushing with 178 yards on 49 carries with 12 TDs. Since Fife was put on the Other League Exempt list, his rights will be retained by the Gladiators.

--Saints cornerback Fred Thomas continued an annual tradition earlier this month when he treated teammates to a night out at a New Orleans-area restaurant to eat dinner and watch the NBA Finals on television.
Thomas, who calls the annual outing "Break Bread with Fred," said he does it in part to build camaraderie with his teammates. He said about 40 players came out this year, including many of the team's new players.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it's a positive. It's always good to be together in close quarters. You're going to be around each other 24-7. Obviously, it's going to get old. You're going to be ready to see another team, go against another team, hit somebody else. I think it helps build team chemistry." -- Saints RB Deuce McAllister on holding training camp in Jackson, Miss.


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