For John Carney, going into the Saints Hall of Fame with former teammate Aaron Brooks is fitting.
“When we played together here and we would go to the start of the season banquet, we were always introduced together. Brooks, Carney, No. 2, No. 3. We always had to enter the ballroom together and now here we are going in together and that’s special,” Carney said Tuesday during the press conference announcing their induction into the Saints Hall of Fame.
Brooks and Carney shared many memorable moments together when they took the field for the Black and Gold from 2001 to 2005. One of those moments even made the cover of Sports Illustrated. The cover of the Sept. 19, 2005 edition showed Brooks and Carney embracing after Carney made the game-winning field goal to beat the Carolina Panthers on the opening day of the 2005 season, just 13 days after the city of New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the levees.
Both men enjoyed individual success while in New Orleans as well.
Brooks took over as the Saints’ starting quarterback in November of the 2000 season and would remain the starter for the next five seasons. He ranks second in franchise history for passing touchdowns with 120, third in franchise history for passing yards with 19,156 and set a then-franchise record for passing yards in a game with 441 vs the Denver Broncos on Dec. 3, 2000. He was also the starting quarterback for the team’s first playoff victory over the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams in 2000.
“Obviously, it’s very humbling. It’s quite an honor to be a part of New Orleans Saints history,” Brooks said while trying to hold back his emotions. “It’s very emotional for me at times. I’ve been a little nervous at times knowing what the team and myself accomplished over the years.”
Carney, one of only three players in NFL history who played in four decades, came to New Orleans in 2001 and spent all or part of eight seasons with the team, including the 2009 season where he earned a Super Bowl ring following the Saints’ victory in Super Bowl XLIV. He is the Saints’ career leader in field-goal percentage (.828). He ranks second for points scored (768), field goals made (168), field goals attempted (203) and extra points made (264).
Carney also shares the team records for field goals in a season with 31 in 2002 and field goals in a game with five.
“To be part of the great men, coaches, and players that have had so much success here with this organization and to be recognized like that is truly a blessing,” Carney said.
One of Carney’s favorite moments during his 23-year NFL career was an encounter he had with Saints Owner Tom Benson during training camp for the 2001 season.
“I was out on the field for the second or third day of practice and I turn around and it’s Mr. Benson,” Carney said. “He walked out to the middle of the field and he introduced himself to me and he said, ‘Son, we’re happy to have you, good luck.’ And out of my entire NFL career, with six different teams, that’s never happened before and it was special. I knew there was something different down here.”
Brooks’ and Carney’s contributions to the Saints earned them a special place in franchise history. Both will be officially inducted in mid-November, most likely the weekend surrounding the Nov. 16 game against the Bengals.
And just as they were introduced together at the kickoff banquets and together made the cover of Sports Illustrated, Aaron Brooks and John Carney will be immortalized together in the Saints Hall of Fame.