Take a look at the New Orleans Saints rookie class as they see the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and visit the Hall of Fame on May 15, 2017.
The crash course that 18 New Orleans Saints rookies took Monday afternoon likely pales in comparison to what they undertook, and continue to undergo, as they attempt to learn New Orleans' offense and defense.
Homework is optional – players can study to familiarize themselves if they choose, but there isn't likely to be a quiz on the information and even if there was one, the price of failure for the individual and team isn't nearly so penal as forgetting an on-field assignment.
But a trip to the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame Museum, located at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, proved to be a nice addition to the education of New Orleans' rookie class.
The trip to the Superdome, partly coordinated by Director of Player Development Fred McAfee, also included a tour of the home locker room (the field was set up for a graduation ceremony). But the museum, which includes a rich, in-depth historical accounting of the Saints from genesis to present, was the highlight.
In addition to the chance to see the busts of players in the Saints Hall of Fame, the museum also includes a video presentation of the Super Bowl XLIV season, notable keepsakes from past seasons (the shoe worn by kicker Tom Dempsey on his then-NFL record 63-yard, game-winning field goal against Detroit in 1970) and a team photo from each year.
"There's a lot of great history in there," said cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the first of the Saints' two first-round picks (No. 11 overall). "I didn't know much about New Orleans or the Saints, I'm from Cleveland. I didn't have a good idea of what was going on besides the Super Bowl, so I see a lot of great history in there and hopefully I can be a part of it one day.
"I watched the Super Bowl video and that gave me chills a little bit, to see them go through that season like that, from 13-3 (in the regular season) to the Super Bowl. That was nice, everything that was in there. Everybody that plays is going to be a part of (the museum) in some shape or form, so it's nice to see all the support."
McAfee said hoped the viewing would inspire the newest class of Saints.
"We talked about showing the history to our younger guys," he said. "I've tried to think of different ways of trying to convey our history of our team to our incoming rookies. I thought, 'We've got a great Hall of Fame down at the Dome. It would be great to get a tour of the locker room and then go up to our Hall of Fame and show these guys about where we are, where we've been and where we're going.' And there's no better place than this.
"I feel like when you know the history of something, your pride and your want-to gets a little bit deeper. You feel the loyalty grow to this team. Most of these guys are very grateful that they're here with the New Orleans Saints and I'm happy for all of them being here. But I just feel like when you see the history of something, you're a little bit more invested."