With a ceremony befitting the honor, quarterback Archie Manning, linebacker Rickey Jackson and offensive tackle Willie Roaf became the inaugural inductees into the New Orleans Saints Ring of Honor on Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Manning, Jackson and Roaf, three of the most distinguished and productive players in franchise history, were recognized at halftime of the Saints' nationally televised game against the Dallas Cowboys.
"We, as an organization, have given thoughtful consideration and devotion in an effort to properly honor the contributions of the many great people that have proudly represented the New Orleans Saints and the city of New Orleans," said Tom Benson, Saints Owner/Chairman of the Board.
"We are excited to induct the deserving members of the Class of 2013 and allow our fans an opportunity to honor the efforts and contributions that these men have made to our franchise. It is fitting to honor three of the greatest players in our franchise's rich history in Archie, Rickey and Willie."
Manning, a two-time Pro Bowler with the Saints and the NFC MVP in 1978, established virtually every franchise passing record during his career in New Orleans (1971-82).
"Archie Manning was the first iconic player in New Orleans Saints history," Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis said. "Archie was the first face of the franchise.
"He was an elite quarterback before we ever used the term elite."
In 134 games and 129 starts with the Saints, Manning completed 1,849 of 3,335 passes for 21,734 yards and 115 touchdowns. He also ran 357 times for 2,058 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"It's a great honor," said Manning, the second overall pick of the 1971 NFL Draft. "All of my nights and days in the Superdome weren't always great. I'll always remember this night."
Jackson, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, spent 13 seasons with the Saints, missing only two of a possible 229 regular-season games in his career. Jackson, the Saints' second-round pick (No. 51 overall) in 1981, is the franchise all-time leader in sacks (115) and fumble recoveries (26).
"He was simply the best linebacker on the best linebacking corps in the history of the NFL," Loomis said, referring to the famed "Dome Patrol" linebacker unit that featured Jackson, Sam Mills, Pat Swilling and Vaughan Johnson.
"I put the Saints (honor) right up there with the Hall of Fame," Jackson said. "I chose Mr. Benson to represent me at the Hall of Fame. That tells you what I think of him."
Few offensive linemen in NFL history have been more highly thought of than Roaf, the team's first-round pick (No. 8 overall) in 1993.
Roaf, who also is a Hall of Fame inductee (Class of 2012), was elected to 11 Pro Bowls in his 13-year career, seven times with the Saints. He was with New Orleans from 1993-2001. No Saint has been selected to play in the Pro Bowl as many times as Roaf, a member of the NFL All-Decade teams of the 1990s and 2000s.
"All he did every game, every year, was block his man," Loomis said.
Said Roaf: "I just remember playing here. When I was a young boy, Rickey taught me the ropes. This is going to be a great evening, especially after we finish beating the Cowboys."
The Saints led the Cowboys 28-10 at halftime.