The New Orleans Saints offensive line was honored Monday following practice as the squad received the first Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award presented by Prilosec OTC.
The accolade recognizes the NFL's top offensive line, based on their 2009 regular season performance.
Saints Owner/President Tom Benson,his wife Gayle, Owner/Executive Vice PresidentRita Benson LeBlanc,Head Coach Sean Payton and QBDrew Breespresented the offensive line with the 150-pound award.
"I would like to congratulate the Saints offensive line for receiving the inaugural Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award," said Hall of Fame coach John Madden in a statement."Your offensive line was a model of consistency for the entire 2009 season and established the foundation for the best offensive attack in the NFL. With reliable run blocking and powerful pass protection your unit played a substantial role in bringing the city of New Orleans its first ever Super Bowl trophy."
"On behalf of the line, I would like to thank John Madden, Prilosec OTC, coach (Sean)Payton, Drew(Brees) and the rest of our coaching staff and players," said offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb. "This is a special group that we get to play alongside. To a man, we are grateful to play beside people that we enjoy getting out there and playing the game next to."
The Saints offensive attack has been ranked first in the NFL three of the last four seasons, including the 2009 campaign, the second consecutive year they did so.
In 2009, the Saints offense averaged 403.8 yards per game, making them the only team in the league to average at least 400 yards per game. The Saints were the only team to be ranked in the top six in both passing and rushing offense.
Additionally, the Saints running game significantly improved its rushing attack in 2009, rising in the NFL net yardage rankings from 28th to sixth in the NFL, averaging 131.6 yards per game.
Saints RB Reggie Bushtold NewOrleansSaints.com that the offensive line spearheads the Saints' offensive attack.
"They are the reason we have been able to have the success we have had on offense," said Bush. "Without them, we couldn't make the plays and offensive touchdowns people are accustomed to seeing from us."
Along with the award, Brees presented his protectors with a gift of his own.
"Not only is our offensive line receiving the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award, they will receive an advance copy of Madden NFL 11 video game," said Brees. "It comes out August 10 right here in New Orleans in what they are calling 'Madden Gras.' If you thought Mardi Gras was crazy then I guess Madden Gras will be even crazier.
"I wouldn't be on the cover if it weren't for these guys. I can't think of a group that is more deserving of the Most Valuable Protectors Award."