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Paige Cothren, first New Orleans Saint under contract, has died

Cothren was an Ole Miss star

Paige Cothren, the first player the New Orleans Saints ever signed to a contract, died Thursday, Sept. 1 in Tupelo, Miss., following a brief illness. He was 81.

A 1953 graduate of Natchez High School, Cothren played football at Ole Miss as a kicker, fullback, linebacker and cornerback. His teams won two SEC championships. The two-time All-American led the SEC in scoring in 1955.

Cothren was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1955 and also played for the Eagles. He retired following the 1959 season but was signed by the Saints on either Jan. 27, 1967 or Feb. 2, 1967 after originally agreeing to a deal with the Falcons. Either date makes him the first player under contract in team history. He did not play a down for the team as he was beaten out to be the team's kicker by Charlie Durkee.

"Not many people knew me back then," Cothren told in 2011. "If I would have made the team it would have been better."

Funeral services will be Sunday, Sept. 4 at Houston First Baptist Church.

For more background on Cothren's connection to the Saints, read this story from

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