By Grace Ostendorf
The New Orleans Saints mourn the loss of Scott Pelluer, who contributed at linebacker and on special teams for the team from 1981-86. Pelluer died late Monday night at the age of 64.
A native of Bellevue, Wash., Pelluer came from a football family, where his father and grandfather played at Washington State, as well as himself. His brother, Steve played quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs. His three sons, Tyler (Montana), Cooper (Washington) and Peyton (Washington State) all played college football with Peyton now on the USC staff.
Pelluer, 6 feet 2, 227 pounds, was a four-year starter at defensive end and linebacker at Washington State from 1977-80, leading the team in sacks for three seasons. He led the school in tackles for loss (18) and sacks (school-record 12 at the time) as a senior in 1980. Pelluer earned a degree in secondary education with math and English concentration.
He was selected by the Cowboys in the fourth round of the 1981 NFL Draft and Saints Coach Bum Phillips deftly claimed him off of waivers at the end of the preseason.
"Scott was one of those guys you never had to look over your shoulder on from a special teams standpoint," said former Saint Rich Mauti, who was a special teams ace from 1977-83 and a teammate of Pelluer for three seasons. "He was one of those guys you knew he was always going to be there. His personality was such that you would look at him and talk to him and would think he can't be a football player, because he's too nice and doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He was able to turn it on when he got on the field, a special teammate."
As a rookie in 1981, Pelluer finished with 11 tackles and one coverage fumble recovery, contributing to a burgeoning defense and the special teams unit in Phillips' first season.
"We had a lot of changes that year," Mauti said. "Bum did a pretty good job of bringing in pretty good kids and when you're doing these evaluations, you obviously have to be talented and have good character in the locker room. The winning teams have players like Scott because he was all in and a team player. Bum was bringing those guys in and he was the epitome of that."
In 1982, a strike-shortened season, where the Saints finished 4-5 and nearly made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, Pelluer made extended defensive contributions. On Nov. 28, Pelluer made his first career start in place of an injured Jim Kovach and tied for the team lead in tackles as the Saints upset the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park to improve to 3-1. The following week, he had a career-high 10 stops to lead the team vs. Tampa Bay.
In 1983, as the Saints improved to 8-8 with the No. 1 defense in the NFL, tying for the best record in franchise history at the time, Pelluer powered the special teams unit with 16 tackles and one fumble recovery.
In 1985, his final season on the team's active roster, Pelluer played in 11 games and started five contests, finishing with 24 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass defense. On Sept. 22, vs. Tampa Bay, he was moved into the starting lineup at inside linebacker and recovered a fumble by Buccaneers running back James Wilder in the third quarter. The Saints would kick a field goal on their next possession and go up 20-6, as the Black and Gold gave new Owner Tom Benson his first victory with the 20-13 win.
During his Saints tenure, Pelluer was also very active in the New Orleans community, as he was a 1984 Saints/Miller Lite Man of the Year candidate after he initiated the "Winning Touch Football Camp" to raise fund for Louisiana Special Olympics. He later served on the board of directors of the Ronald McDonald House for four years.
"We are and were blessed to be able to do what we did and get paid for it and many of us feel it's an it's an obligation to give back," Mauti said. "I remember when Scott was involved in Special Olympics and I think we did some things together back then. He was one of those guys and always cared about people. That's a personality trait, that wasn't only in the locker room with Scott. He got involved, he not only had a passion for football but had a lifetime passion to help people."
Coaching was also a passion of Pelluer, having served as an assistant coach at Weber State briefly in 1981 following his graduation, before the start of his NFL career. He moved quickly into coaching after the end of his playing career, serving as a defensive assistant at Boise State from 1986-92, followed by stints at Northern Arizona, Washington and Arizona, as well as serving as a radio analyst for his alma mater's broadcasts from 1999-2000.