Photos of Jonathan Vilma with the New Orleans Saints. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)
The media selection committee of the Saints Hall of Fame has selected G Carl Nicks and LB Jonathan Vilma for induction in 2017. Saints Administrative Director Jay Romig, an employee in his 41st year with the Saints organization is the 2017 recipient of the Joe Gemelli "Fleur-De-Lis" Award, given yearly to a person who has contributed to the betterment of the Saints organization.
Nicks, 6-5, 349, was originally selected by New Orleans in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft (164th overall) out of Nebraska. He moved into the starting left guard position in the fourth game of his rookie campaign, as New Orleans finished first in the National Football League in total offense and in his over four seasons with the Saints, he opened 61 of the 64 games he appeared in, with the club leading the league offensively three times.
A look at the press conference announcing Saints Hall of Fame Class of 2017 honorees Carl Nicks, Jonathan Vilma and Jay Romig.
Nicks opened all 16 games for the first time in his career during the 2009 season and went on to open all three postseason contests on the way to the Super Bowl XLIV championship, as the Saints offensive line was awarded the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award. In 2010, he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time and in 2011, Nicks was selected a second time, as the member of a line that blocked for an offense that set the NFL record for total net yardage. The Saints line was also awarded the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award again. Nicks was also selected to the club's All-50th team in 2016.
Vilma, 6-1, 230, was originally selected by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami. After spending his first four NFL seasons with the Jets, where he was selected as the Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and to one Pro Bowl, the Coral Gables, Fla. native was acquired by the Saints in a trade in the 2008 offseason and in six seasons appeared in 70 games with 68 starts while manning the middle of the New Orleans defense and recorded 530 tackles (331 solo), eight sacks, six interceptions, 27 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. He was selected to Pro Bowls in 2009 and 2010 and led the Saints in tackles for three consecutive seasons from 2008-10. In 2016, Vilma was selected to the club's All-50th team.
After being acquired by the Saints, Vilma immediately helped transform the middle of the team's defense, posting 151 tackles (100 solo), one sack, one interception, two passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in his first season with the club. Voted as a team captain for the first time in 2009, he posted 130 stops (102 solo), a career-high three interceptions and eight passes defensed, adding 14 more stops, one interception, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the postseason en route to the Super Bowl XLIV victory.
Selected a defensive team captain four times as a Saint from 2009-12, Vilma appeared in 125 career NFL games with 121 starts over 10 seasons and posted career totals of 990 tackles (643 solo), 10.5 sacks, 12 interceptions, 41 passes defensed, 11 forced fumbles and 10 fumble recoveries.
Vilma was one of the club's most active players in the community during his Saints tenure. Born to parents who hailed from Haiti, he partnered with the Saints to host annual celebrity waiter dinners from 2010-13 to raise money to help the country recover from a devastating earthquake in 2010. Through the celebrity waiter dinners and other efforts, Vilma and his foundation raised over $400,000 towards the construction and operating costs of three new charter schools in the nation. He was named the club's "Man of the Year" in 2010, as the team nominee for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
The 35-year old Vilma recorded 377 career tackles at the University of Miami (Fla.), leading the Hurricanes in tackles for three consecutive seasons (2001-03. In 2003, he was named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and the Walter Camp Foundation. He was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015 and was recently elected to the school's Board of Trustees. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in finance with a minor in marketing.
Romig is in his 41st year with the Saints organization, having originally joined the club in 1977 as an assistant athletic trainer, while also serving as a club liaison with the Superdome in operations. In 1979, he established the club's Information Technology department and has continually taken the lead on multiple projects within the club's administrative, business and football operations, while also annually coordinating training camp logistics in seven different locations for the club, assisting in team travel and serving as a valued board member of the Saints Hall of Fame. Romig is a New Orleans native who is a graduate of Brother Martin High School and the University of New Orleans. He and his late father, Jerry (2009), the club's PA announcer for home games for 44 years, as the only father-son recipients of the award.
Events surrounding the induction of Nicks and Vilma and the recognition of Romig will take place on the weekend running from Oct. 27-29 in conjunction with the Oct. 29 contest vs. the Chicago Bears. For more information about the Saints Hall of Fame and upcoming events, visit saintshalloffame.com.
Photos of Carl Nicks with the New Orleans Saints (New Orleans Saints Photos)