METAIRIE -- The New Orleans Saints will be easy to spot Saturday during enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2012 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
They will be the ones wearing No. 77 jerseys in honor of 11-time Pro Bowl left tackle Willie Roaf, who played his first nine NFL seasons for the Black and Gold before being traded in 2002 to the Kansas City Chiefs where he played another four seasons.
He officially retired on July 28, 2006, marking the end to a stellar 189-game career.
For Roaf, who is a member of the NFL All-Decade Teams of the 1990s and 2000s, it was not a matter of if he would be elected to the HOF, but when.
The answer came on Feb. 4, 2012, in his second year of eligibility. Many observers believed Roaf should have been elected in his first year of eligibility, a "slam dunk'' if you will, including Saints defensive end Will Smith who remembers his one sack against Roaf like it was yesterday.
The takedown of Chiefs' quarterback Trent Green came in Game 9 of Smith's rookie season in 2004 during a 27-20 win against Kansas City at the Superdome.
"I had heard a lot about (Roaf) and everything they said about him was true,'' Smith said after Thursday's training camp practice. "Luckily I got a sack on him. That was during the days when they had the iconic left tackles. We don't have too many of those today. But, he was one of those guys who wouldn't even let you get close to a quarterback or even get a pressure or a hurry.
"To get a sack against him meant a lot, and he still gives me a hard time about it every time I see him. So, he still remembers it. But he was a great player and I'm happy for him and his family.''
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Each of the Saints players will be wearing a No. 77 jersey in honor of Roaf who wore that number for 13 NFL seasons.
Ironically, 77 also reflects the number of games that the eight former and current members of the Saints organization have been suspended for this season for their roles in the bounty scandal.
You do the math:
-- Saints coach Sean Payton (16*); Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (16*); former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (16*); Saints general manager Mickey Loomis (8); former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (8); Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt (6); Saints defensive end Will Smith (4), former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita (3).
The collective 77-game suspension could change depending on the outcome of Vilma's challenge in federal court, the Saints in-season success as it pertains to Payton and Vilma and whether Williams' suspension goes beyond the 2012 season.
Strange but true.
Veteran cornerback Jabari Greer is expected to miss at least the first three exhibition games after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia injury Thursday, including Sunday night's Hall of Fame game (NFL Network, 7 p.m.) against the Arizona Cardinals in Canton, Ohio.
It is the second time in less than three years that Greer has undergone a sports hernia procedure by specialist Dr. William Meyers of Philadelphia. Greer missed Games 9 through 15 in 2009 with an injured groin that required surgery. He returned for the regular season finale and helped the Saints make their dramatic run to victory in Super Bowl XLIV.
Meyers has performed similar procedures on numerous former and current Saints, including middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith and running back Chris Ivory, among others.
Vitt said at the very least Greer will be ready for the Saints' season-opening game against the Washington Redskins and rookie quarterback RG3 on Sept. 9 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Laid back wide receiver Marques Colston showed a side of himself that is seldom seen on the football field Thursday. After catching a touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Brees, Colston "power spiked'' the ball in the end zone.
Tight end Jimmy Graham twice pulled a similar stunt and running back Darren Sproles did it once much to the fans' delight.
"Drew just wanted to have a little fun so anybody that got in the end zone we were going to spike it,'' Colston said. "I had to really think about how to do it because, I mean, it's a first for me. But I got to be a team guy and have some fun with it.
"Lance (Moore) likes to have fun in the end zone but the rest of us (wide receivers) are kind of shy.''
Asked if this was a sign of things to come, Colston replied: "I got to practice it a little more.''
SIGN OF THE TIMES
"Fear The Beard.'' -- A fan displayed this sign at practice Wednesday in reference to the bushy growth of facial hair that defensive end Junior Galette is sporting this training camp
"I'm on the back-nine of my career right now and I can see the clubhouse, and at 57 I'm not buying a lot of bananas. He's got a lot of playing time ahead of him. He has a lot of completions and a lot of touchdowns yet to throw. It'll be special and it will be emotional." -- Vitt on the day Saints' quarterback Drew Brees gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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