Robert Vaughn Newland, former New Orleans Saints wide receiver, died June 30, 2021. He was 72 and had been battling a lengthy illness in his home state of Oregon.
Newland was selected in the seventh round by the Saints in the 1971 NFL draft, 170 picks after New Orleans selected quarterback Archie Manning with the team's first pick.
Newland came back to New Orleans for Saints Hall of Fame alumni events recently and enjoyed his time reminiscing with his former teammates.
"I played in the Hula Bowl with Bob," Manning told Crescent City Sports. "We were in the same draft class. He played a lot for us in the first few years. He was a really good person. His father was a track coach in Oregon. He was a good friend whom I stayed in touch with through the years. It was a pleasure to know Bob and play with him. He was my friend."
In 56 games with the Saints, Newland caught 124 passes for 1,877 yards and eight touchdowns. His best season was 1972 when he led the Saints in receiving, hauling in 47 passes for 579 yards and two touchdowns. In 1973, Newland was second on the team with 29 catches for 489 yards and four touchdowns.
Newland played four seasons in the NFL, all for the Saints, from 1971-74, and is known to be the first player to wear Nike cleats in an NFL game.
After graduating from North Eugene High School, Newland joined the University of Oregon football team in 1968 and would go on to become one of the most prolific members of the vaunted 1970 squad. From 1968-70, Newland caught 125 passes for 1,941 yards and 12 touchdowns. He earned All-American honors in 1970, recording 67 receptions for 1,123 yards and seven scores.
Along with teammates Dan Fouts and Bobby Moore, now known as Ahmad Rashad (wide receiver), the Ducks paced the Pac-10 in passing offense and were second in the country.
"It just hurts me in my heart," Rashad told the Register-Guard. "What a wonderful man he was, great guy. One of the nicest people I've met in my whole life. The day I first met Bob, he was one of my best friends right off the bat. All the conversations we had over the years always centered around our friendship and took us back to those college days."
Newland is survived by his wife, Christie, son Bill, and daughter Annie.