The New Orleans Saints have announced the release of running back Deuce McAllister.
McAllister, the first-round draft choice of the Saints in 2001, played in 97 regular season games over eight seasons in New Orleans and is the franchise's record-holder for touchdowns scored with 55, rushing yards with 6,096, rushing attempts (1,429), rushing touchdowns with 49 and ranks eighth in receptions with 234. His 27 career 100-yard rushing games are the most in team history and he is the only Saints runner to gain 1,000 yards in a season four times, including two Pro Bowl seasons in 2002 and 2003.
"Deuce has meant so much to our organization since we selected him in the first round of the 2001 draft," said Owner Tom Benson. "He has represented our club with dignity and class, and obviously been a great player – one of our best all-time. He's earned the respect of everyone in our community for not only what he's done on the field, but for what he's done for those who are less fortunate. Saints fans should celebrate his career and his accomplishments, and what we wish for him now is continued success."
A long-time fan favorite, McAllister missed significant time due to injuries in recent years after first tearing the ACL in his right knee in October 2005 and then suffering an ACL tear in his left knee in the third game of the 2007 season.
"Deuce has had a career defined by both his accomplishments and his exemplary character," said Owner/Executive Vice President Rita Benson LeBlanc. "He has meant so much to our fans and the region, that we celebrate everything he has accomplished both on and off the field. He will always be part of the Saints' family, and Deuce will continue to be held in the highest regards within our organization."
He fought back to help lead the Saints to an NFC South division title in 2006, rushing for 1,057 yards and 10 touchdowns. McAllister also started both playoff games for New Orleans that season, running for 161 yards in the two contests and scoring touchdowns rushing and receiving in the Divisional round victory over Philadelphia.
"Decisions like this are always very difficult ones to make," said Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. "Deuce has epitomized hard work, leadership and productivity throughout his career and has been a source of great pride for all of us associated with the team. His records and accomplishments on the field speak for themselves about the type of player he was in a Saints uniform. He truly ranks as one of the greatest players in our club's history, and we are very respectful of everything he has meant to the Saints and our community."
"Deuce McAllister epitomizes what you look for in a football player," said Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. "Deuce played a major role with this team in our drive to the NFC Championship game. He has suffered setbacks with his injuries and that has been unfortunate for him and for us as he has played a critical role in our offense. Today, we start the process of trying to replace him and find that player that embodies what Deuce McAllister has meant to this team."
McAllister again came back after a lengthy rehabilitation process to run for 418 yards and five scores in 2008. He broke the team's all-time touchdown record in a November win over Green Bay, passing Dalton Hilliard with his 54th trip to the end zone and later became the first Saint to gain 6,000 career rushing yards.
Not only a leader on the field, McAllister has also been heavily involved in community and business efforts both in New Orleans and in his hometown of Jackson, Miss. over the course of his career. His Catch 22 Foundation has aided countless less fortunate families and children and has been heavily involved in the recovery of the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina.