Former Saints RB Deuce McAllister was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 23. Photos from Northwestern State.
Former New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister has filled big shoes before, when he replaced Ricky Williams as New Orleans' primary running back in the early 2000s. He will do so again beginning this week, when he steps in for Hokie Gajan as the radio color analyst for Saints broadcasts on WWL-870 while Gajan undergoes chemotherapy as he battles cancer.
Gajan, also a former Saints running back, has been with the radio broadcast team since 2000. He played for New Orleans from 1981-85 and in his Saints career, ran for 1,358 yards and 11 touchdowns, and had 515 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
He recently announced his cancer diagnosis and will miss at least Sunday's road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he undergoes treatment.
Like Gajan, McAllister is a beloved former Saint. He played for the team from 2001-09 and is the franchise's all-time leader in rushing attempts (1,429), rushing yards (6,096) and rushing touchdowns (49).
"Hokie will start chemo soon," said Diane Newman, WWL operations and program director, via the announcement released by the station. "We're not sure if it will begin this week. If it does, Deuce McAllister has graciously agreed to fill in as Saints color analyst. Any games Hokie can't call, Deuce will."
Said McAllister: "No one person can replace Hokie Gajan. As he battles through chemo, I'll do my best to fill in when they need me. Hokie is as good as it gets, tougher than tough. I'm honored to work with (play-by-play man) Jim Henderson and the broadcast team on a legendary station like WWL."
Gajan said that he believed McAllister would be a more than adequate fill-in.
"He's going to do a fantastic job," Gajan said. "I couldn't think of a better person to fill in for me. Deuce knows so much about this Saints offense. He's going to provide insight that Jim, (sideline reporter) Kristian (Garic) and I could only dream of because he knows the team so well."
Henderson, another Saints legend as a broadcaster, said the transition should be smooth.
"Our hearts are saddened by this news of Hokie for sure, but I know he'll make it through," Henderson said. "Hokie is the toughest person I've met in my life. It won't be easy but he'll do it, I know he will. I'm looking forward to having Deuce in the booth, but hopefully this won't be anything long term.
"I think Deuce will do fine. He's a pro's pro. He was such a great player and an even better human being. He was always approachable when he was playing after a win or loss. I think Deuce will approach it like a professional, just like he did when he was playing; not just as a stopgap guy. He's a player that is beloved by the Saints community and while I'm sad to not have my longtime partner with me (potentially), I'm excited about Deuce being a part of the broadcast in any way."