Brian Allee-Walsh

Vandals try to dig up dirt on New Orleans Saints

In the spring of 2007, fresh off a division championship and the franchise's first-ever trip to the NFC Championship, New Orleans Saints coaches and players established a burial ground outside the team's locker room at their practice facility in Metairie.

Collectively, they buried individual and team trophies, plaques and awards earned from the 2006 season, the first campaign under coach Sean Payton with quarterback Drew Brees under center.

But when the team started 0-4 to open the 2007 season, players decided to unearth some but not all of the buried keepsakes from the gravesite and placed the various awards around the locker room as a reminder of who they are and where they came from.

The Saints finished 7-9 in '07 and missed the playoffs. Ironically, the Saints have finished 7-9 in three of their last four seasons and missed the playoffs all three times.

Nearly nine years later, local authorities report that the Saints' treasure cove attracted some unwanted visitors to the gravesite during Easter week. According to those authorities, an unspecified number of grave diggers used shovels and pick axes under the moonlight in an effort to uncover the various remains of memorabalia from the 2006 season.

No charges have been filed because there is no evidence of specific items missing from the burial ground. Saints officials could not be reached for comment.

In other related news and sports developments surrounding April 1, consider:

-- Officials from Ole Miss and Mississippi State have begun preliminary discussions to play the annual "Egg Bowl'' at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. The game has never been played outside the state of Mississippi. Ole Miss leads the series 63-43-6.

-- Former Ole Miss and Saints quarterback John Fourcade is among those being considered to head up a new association of private schools, charter schools, magnet schools and labratory schools in Louisiana that are considering leaving the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.

-- The New Orleans Pelicans are considering playing a handful of regular-season games on the Gulf Coast as early as next season, according to NBA sources. Potential venues include the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, the Mobile (Ala.) Civic Center and the Pensacola (Fla.) Bay Center.

-- Officials at LSU and Tulane are close to finalizing a 10-year agreement to resume their annual football series beginning in 2021. The schools last played in 2009 with LSU winning 42-0. The schools mutually agreed to end a 10-year home-and-home contract after four games following that contest. Under terms of the new deal, LSU's Tiger Stadium would serve as the home venue in eight of the 10 years.

-- Plans are under way to begin production on a movie about the Bountygate saga involving Saints team officials, players and coaches. Saints coach Sean Payton, who was suspended the entire season of 2012 for his alleged role in the scandal, is expected to star as himself.

-- Saints quarterback Drew Brees is strongly considering playing out the last year of his five-year, $100 million contract if team officials can't reach a new extension prior to the start of training camp in late July, according to sources. Brees presently counts an NFL-high $30 million against the team's salary cap.

And if you believe any of the aformentioned April 1 foolishness, I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

Happy April Fool's Day!

Brian Allee-Walsh, a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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