Take a look at some of the members of the Saints 1967 team then and now.
*All season NewOrleansSaints.com will be writing about special moments, teams and traditions to help celebrate the 50th season of Saints football. Today, a look at where the members of the first Saints team are now. If you have information on any members of the original Saints team please email Saintsdigital@saints.nfl.com. Evan Meyers and Justin Perez reported and wrote this story.
#46 Danny Abramowicz, originally a 17th-round selection by New Orleans in 1967 (420thoverall), played seven seasons with the Saints, appearing in 83 games with 43 games started. He finished his Saints career with 4,875 yards and 37 touchdowns on 309 receptions. Named a first-team All-Pro in 1969 after posting totals of 73 catches, 1,015 yards and seven touchdowns. In 1968, 1969, and 1970, he ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in receptions and receiving yards. Additionally, in 1968 and 1972 he was Top 10 in receiving touchdowns. Growing tired of the losing in New Orleans, Abramowicz requested a trade in 1973. The Saints granted him this wish, trading him to San Francisco, where he would play for the final year and a half of his career. After retiring, he returned to New Orleans to broadcast the Saints games on radio, doing so for five years. He would then spend much of his post-football life in the oil field, before returning to the NFL as the special teams coordinator of the Chicago Bears in the late 1980s. Finally, he spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints under Mike Ditka. He is currently 70 years old and lives in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio.
#22 RB Charlie Brown, a 10th-round selection in the 1967 draft out of Missouri, Brown played two seasons with the Saints primarily as a kick and punt returner. Dr. Charles R. "Charlie" Brown, now 71, had a long acadsemic career as a teacher, coach, administrator and deputy superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools. He also served as superintendent of the Wellston, Mo., School District and assistant commissioner of Teacher Quality and Urban Education -for the state of Missouri.
#55 Jack Burkett appeared in 28 games starting 10 at linebacker during his two Saint tenures. Burkett was originally drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 1959 NFL Draft taken in the first round (12th overall) out of Auburn. In his 10 year NFL career he appeared in 121 games with 10 interceptions starting 20 for the Colts, Saints and Cowboys. After his NFL career he bought Café Banquet in the French Quarter. After that business adventure Burkett worked for a pipe company using his engineering degree from Auburn and went on to be the vice president for the engineering firm for 27 years. Burkett retired in 2008 and resides in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and is 71 years old.
#66 Bill Cody appeared in 40 games at linebacker in four seasons with the Saints. The Auburn product was drafted in the fifth round (67th overall) in the 1966 draft by the Detroit Lions. He was selected by the Saints in the 1967 expansion draft from the Lions. Cody had stints with the Lions, Saints and Eagles during his six-year NFL career. After his NFL career Cody worked for Royal Oldsmobile for 30 years and eventually owned his own dealership in Columbus, Ga. Cody later became president of Key Royal Oldsmobile and then went on to work for Honda in Alabama. Cody currently is retired in Fairhope, Ala., and is 71.
#75 Lou Cordileone had sat out three seasons before Saints defensive assistant Jack Faulkner reached out to him and got him a tryout with the Saints. Cordileone played six seasons in the NFL, spending stints with the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams, before playing for the Black and Gold from 1967-68, the final two seasons of his career. He appeared in 75 games, 24 of which came with the Saints. After his playing career, he opened a bar in the French Quarter which he owned for nearly a decade. After leaving New Orleans, he returned to California and got into the silver recovery business. Originally from Jersey City, he is currently 78 years old and resides in California.
#15 Gary Cuozzo was acquired by New Orleans through a trade with the Baltimore Colts in exchange for the first overall pick in the 1967 NFL Draft. The first starting quarterback in franchise history, Cuozzo went on to play in 13 games of the 1967 season, starting 10 and finishing 134-of-260 for 1,562 yards and seven touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Ultimately losing the starting job to Billy Kilmer, Cuozzo was traded the following year to Minnesota. Over a 10-year career that saw him start 40-of-82 games played, he threw for 7,402 yards and 43 touchdowns with 55 interceptions on 584-of-1,182 passing. During his playing career, Cuozzo studied dentistry, finally opening a practice upon his retirement. Now a retired orthodontist, he is 74 years old and resides in Middletown Township, N.J.
#10 Charlie Durkee spent four seasons with New Orleans, appearing in 46 games from 1967-72. Originally making the team through a tryout that saw owner John W. Mecom, Jr. shagging balls under the goal post, he made 52-of-101 field goals and connected on 87-of-88 extra points. Following his NFL career, Durkee spent time in the World Football League. Former Saints offensive assistant Charlie Tate, then head coach of the league's Jacksonville Sharks, requested he kick for the team on a part-time basis. With his playing career over, he started a fire sprinkler company in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Durkee, 71 years old, still runs the business but plans on retiring in the near future.
#80 Jim Garcia was a defensive end who the Saints acquired in the expansion draft from the New York Giants, where he had played during the 1966 season. In 1965 he played for the Cleveland Browns and he ended his career in Atlanta with the Falcons in 1968. He is 72.
#42 John Gilliam was New Orleans' second round pick in the 1967 NFL Draft (52nd overall). The South Carolina native would go on to appear in 27 games from 1967-68 for the Saints, returning to the team in 1977 to play in 10 contests with eight starts. Over 37 games played (eight starts) for the Black and Gold, Gilliam totaled 681 yards and two touchdowns on 57 receptions, while adding 77 yards on nine rushes. Gilliam returned the opening kickoff 94 yards in the Saints' inaugural game in 1967 against the Los Angeles Rams for their first touchdown in franchise history. Over an 11-year career, Gilliam started 106-of-151 games played, catching 382 passes for 7,056 yards and 48 touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times, all while with the Minnesota Vikings. After concluding his NFL career, he managed a shoe store in Atlanta for 12 years. He then opened a landscape company in Atlanta which he still operates. Gilliam is 71.
#26 Jimmy Heidel was taken in the expansion draft from the St. Louis Cardinals. Heidel, after playing in all 14 games of his rookie season, played in all 14 games for the Saints in 1967, his last season in the NFL. After initially making the Jets team in 1969, he decided against playing, instead electing to retire. The Jets would go on to win Super Bowl III with Joe Namath that season. Upon retirement, he went back to school and got his master's degree. He used this to get into economic development, spending 40 years in the industry. Now 72 years old, Heidel lives in Oxford, Miss.
#17 Billy Kilmer was acquired by the Saints through the expansion draft from the San Francisco 49ers. In 1967, he played in 10 games with four starts, completing 97-of-204 passes for 1,341 yards and six touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Over his four-year career with the Black and Gold, he started 39-of-49 games played, going 592-of-1,116 for 7,490 yards and 47 touchdowns with 62 interceptions. Kilmer was traded to Washington in 1971, spending the last eight years of his career there. In 16 NFL seasons, the two-time All-Pro started 123-of-170 games played, connecting on 1,585-of-2,984 passes for 20,495 yards and 152 touchdowns with 146 interceptions. After his playing career, Kilmer did some banking for a few years and even spent a short period of time as the commissioner of the AFL. Retired for nearly 30 years, Kilmer is 76 years old and resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
#89 Kent Kramer was acquired by the Saints in the expansion draft from the San Francisco 49ers. In 1967, his second professional season, Kramer caught 20 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns over 10 games played. After leaving the Saints, he went to play for the Vikings from 1969-70, appearing in Super Bowl IV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Over eight NFL seasons, he totaled 576 yards and eight touchdowns on 45 receptions over 97 games played with 12 starts. Kramer is now 71 years old.
#50 Jake Kuppappeared in 106 games for the Saints with 44 starts at guard and one Pro Bowl during his nine years with the team. Kupp was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1964 NFL Draft taken in the ninth round (116th overall) out of Washington. In 13 years in the NFL Kupp appeared in 154 games and started 68 for the Cowboys, Saints, Falcons and Redskins. After his playing career Kupp worked at the Pacific Institute which is a motivational company and it really helped his transition from football. Kupp went on to become a manager of a food distribution company and eventually became a president of a national company. Kupp retired in Washington in 2002 and currently teaches migrant workers and children English and literacy. He is 75.
#12 Tom McNeill appeared in 26 games as a punter with the Saints. McNeill signed as an undrafted free agent out of Stephen F. Austin. Originally a basketball player, he joined the football team when it needed a punter. In his seven-year career in the NFL he appeared in 66 games with the Saints, Vikings and Eagles. McNeill still holds the Saints record for the longest punt with an 81-yard punt in 1969. After his NFL career he was a sales person for Kim Iron works in Houston for 25 years. The piping company supplied utility companies as well as submarines for the Navy. McNeill is retired in Houston and is 73.
#77 Ray Rissmiller appeared in 11 games with 11 starts for the Saints in 1967. Rissmiller was originally drafted by the Eagles in the 1965 NFL Draft in the second round (20th overall) out of Georgia. In his three-year NFL career he appeared in 16 games with 11 starts for the Eagles, Saints and Bills. After the NFL Rissmiller worked for a 7Up and RC plant in Metairie and he stayed in soft drinks for 40 years with Pepsi and Coked and eventually retired in Goose Creek, S.C. He is 73 years old.
#27 Walt Roberts came to New Orleans in the expansion draft from the Cleveland Browns, winning a World Championship with Jim Brown in 1964. In 1967, he played in 13 games, catching 17 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns, and adding 11 punt returns for 50 yards and 28 kickoffs for 737 yards and one touchdown. In the Saints' first win of the season and first in club history, a 31-24 victory against Philadelphia, Roberts scored two touchdowns, one receiving and one off of a punt return. New Orleans traded Roberts in 1968 to the Detroit Lions, where he would never play a down. After sitting out the 1968 season, Roberts played for the Washington Redskins for two seasons. Over a six-year career, Roberts played in 83 games while making 12 starts, returning 72 punts for 446 yards and 107 kickoffs for 2,728 yards and one touchdown. Upon retirement, he did some work for Jim Brown's Negro Industrial Economic Union in Los Angeles. After relocating to San Jose, he worked as an electrical contractor until his retirement in 2001. Roberts is 74.
#44 George Rose was acquired by New Orleans through the expansion draft from the Minnesota Vikings, where he had played from 1964-66. In 1967, which would be his lone season in New Orleans, the defensive back appeared in 13 games, recording one interception. In four professional seasons, Rose played in 47 games, picking off nine passes for 86 return yards and one interception. After retiring from the NFL, he returned to coach defensive backs at his alma mater, Auburn. Rose is 74 and resides in Auburn, Ala.
#76 Dave Rowe appeared in 56 games and started 28 for the Saints at defensive tackle during his four-year tenure with the Saints. Rowe was drafted by the Saints in the 1967 NFL Draft in the 2nd round (53rdoverall) out of Penn State. In his 14-year career Rowe appeared in 165 games starting 116 for the Saints, Raiders, Patriots, Chargers and Colts. After his NFL career Rowe started a broadcasting career with NBC as a color analyst for NFL games. He also worked for Raycom Sports before retiring in 2009. Rowe resides in Boone, N.C., and is 70.
#73 Bill Sandeman appeared in two games at tackle in the 1967 Saints season. The Pacific graduate originally signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1966 as an undrafted free agent. Sandeman was taken by the Saints in the 1967 expansion draft. In the 1967 season he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons playing his final seven seasons with the team. He started 42 of 84 games in his career at tackle for the Cowboys, Saints and Falcons. After his playing career he started Sandeman Construction. Currently Sandeman resides in Homewood, Calif., and is 73.
#60 Brian Schweda appeared in 24 games at defensive end for the Saints during his two years. Schweda was originally drafted by the Chicago Bears in the eighth round (101st overall) out of Kansas. Schweda was taken in the 1967 expansion draft by the Saints. In his three-year career he appeared in 38 career games with the Bears and Saints. After his playing days Schweda owned a junk yard from 2003-2015 and currently works and trains horses in Louisiana. He currently resides in Gretna and is 73.
#31 Jim Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976, Taylor appeared in 14 games with the Saints in 1967 at running back. Taylor was originally drafted by the Packers in the 1958 NFL Draft in the second round (15th overall) out of LSU, the 1958 National Champions. In his 10-year NFL career he appeared in 132 games, rushing for 8,597 yards (4.4 average) and 83 touchdowns and caught 225 passes for 1,756 and 10 touchdowns. Taylor was a five-time Pro Bowler and was a one-time All-Pro for the Packers. After his playing career he went in the construction business with a partner in Baton Rouge. Taylor is retired and is active in the NFL community. He lives in Baton Rouge and is 80.
#74 Mike Tilleman came to the Saints through the expansion draft from the Minnesota Vikings, where he spent his rookie season in 1966. He appeared in all 14 games of the 1967 season and would go on to play in all 56 games over his four seasons with New Orleans. After leaving the Saints, Tilleman would spend two seasons with the Houston Oilers and four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Since leaving the NFL in 1977, Tilleman has been in the auto industry, operating out of his home state of Montana. He is 71 and lives in Haber.
#38 Phil Vandersea was acquired by New Orleans through the expansion draft from Green Bay, where he had just won a championship as part of the Packers Super Bowl I team. Vandersea played in 8-of-14 games and was traded back to Green Bay for the 1968 season. Over his career, he appeared in 46 games. After leaving the Packers in 1972, he went to Canada to play football for a year. After returning to his hometown in Massachusetts, he worked a couple of different jobs before getting into state corrections, where he worked in the state prison system for 20 years. After that, he ran a communities program for another 20 years. Vandersea, now 73, retired in 2004.
#20 George Youngblood came to the Saints after being released by the Cleveland Browns during the 1967 season. The defensive back played in just one game and returned the next season to play in four games, before being traded to the Chicago Bears in 1969. In four seasons from 1966-69, Youngblood played in 44 contests. After retiring at age 25, he went back to California, working in the transportation business before going back to school and becoming a chiropractor. Youngblood, 71, is a history teacher and resides in Orange County, Calif.
Tom Fears coached the Saints from 1967-1970 finishing with a 13-34-2 record. Following his stint with the Saints Fears served as the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1971 and 1972. Fears was a star receiver with the Los Angeles Rams finishing his career in 1956 with 400 catches for 5,397 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was named first team All-Pro in 1950 when he had 84 catches for 1,116 yards and seven touchdowns. Before coaching the Saints Fears was an assistant under Vince Lombardi with the Packers and also coached for the Rans and Falcons. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Fears died 2000.
George Dickson coached the Saints offensive backfield in 1967 and '68. He later coached with the Washington Redskins, Houston Oilers and San Diego Chargers.
Bob Shaw coached receivers with the Saints in 1967 and '68, He later coached with the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills. Shaw died in 2011.
Walt Yowarsky coached with the Saints offensive line in 1967 and '68, He also coached with the Atlanta Falcons, Houston oilers and San Diego Chargers before becoming an executive with the Dallas Cowboys. Yowarsky died in 2014.
Ed Khayat had a 10-year playing career with the Redskins, Eagles, and Boston Patriots. fter his playing days were over, he became *the first defensive line coach *for the inaugural 1967 Saints. The first four years of his 25 years as a coach in the NFL were spent with the Saints. He is retired and serves on the NFLPA Former Players Board of Directors. He is 81.
Jack Faulkner coached defense with the Saints in 1967, '68 and '69, Prior to joining the Saints he had been head coach of the Denver Broncos. He also coached with the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams before moving into a front office position. He died in 2008.
J.D. Roberts coached linebackers with the Saints in 1967 and '68 and was the team's head coach from 1971-73, His first gamne as head coach was notable for Tom Dempsey making a then-record 63-yard field goal on the final play of a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions. He is 84.
John Mecom owned the Saints from 1966 until he sold the franchise to Tom Benson on March 12, 1985. He was 26 when he founded the team with a group of business partners. Mecom is retired and lives in Texas.