The New Orleans Saints recently lost a beloved member of their family when former strength and conditioning coach Russell Paternostro passed away at 71 years old.
Paternostro, a New Orleans native, supervised the strength and conditioning program for the Saints from 16 years from 1981-1996, making him the longest tenured assistant coach in franchise history. Under the former United States Navy veteran, the Saints enjoyed some of their most successful seasons, as he administered the Saints strength program for head coach Jim Mora, who stressed the principles of toughness, discipline and conditioning. Paternostro was part of a staff that went to went to the postseason four times, including the club’s first playoff berth in 1987.
“The New Orleans Saints mourn the loss of Russell and our sympathy goes out to his wife Mercy and their two daughters,” said Saints Owner/Chairman of the Board Tom Benson. “Russell played an integral part in the initial success that we enjoyed here.”
A graduate of West Jefferson High School in Harvey, Paternostro attended San Diego State University and was a member of the football squad at Camp Pendleton, California during his tour of duty in the U.S. Navy. Upon returning to New Orleans in 1962, he managed and owned fitness centers in the New Orleans area until his appointment to the Saints coaching staff in 1981.