Best Saints By The Numbers: #14
All summer long, we’re going to list the best players in New Orleans Saints history to wear every number, 00-99.
The pick: Russell Erxleben
When picking the best Saints player ever to wear #14, the choice is limited to quarterbacks Karl Sweetan, Edd Hargett, Richard Todd, Tim Riordan, Tom Hodson, and J.T. O'Sullivan, receiver Levon Thomas, and punter/placekicker Russell Erxleben.
As crazy as it may sound, we're going to go with Erxleben, who played for the Saints from from 1979-1983?
Because really, who else would you pick?
The other choices were all back-up quarterbacks, including Todd, who played in only two games in 1985 wearing #14, and Thomas, who never caught a pass for the organization.
So, the pick is Erxleben.After playing his collegiate football at Texas, where he he set the record for the longest field goal in NCAA history with a 67 yard kick, and where he became the only three-time All-America punter in NCAA history, Erxleben was selected by the Saints with the 11th-overall pick in the 1979 NFL Draft.
A native of Seguin, Texas, Erxleben was expected to handle both punting and placekicking duties for the Saints in 1979, but things began on a sour note, as in his first NFL game, Erxleben, who was punting, had a snap go over his head in overtime during a game against the Atlanta Falcons, and headed toward the goal line.
He picked up the ball and attempted a chest pass, which was intercepted and returned for a game-winning touchdownby Atlanta's James Mayberry.
The next week, in a game against the Green Bay Packers, Erxleben pulled the hamstring in his right leg, forcing the Saints to use fullback Tony Galbreath as their emergency placekicker and wide receiver Wes Chandler at punter, before signing Garo Yepremian and Rick Partridge to handle the kicking and punting chores, respectively, in Erxleben's absence.
Going into the 1980 season, Erxleben was again given the chance to handle punting and placekicking duties, but missed a game-tying field goal attempt in a 26-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the season opener.
He made only 2-of-5 field goal attempts that season.
Erxleben would attempt only one more field goal, and two more PAT's, following the 1980 season, and would end his time as a placekicker making 4-of-8 field goals, and all seven PAT's.
And while he might not have lived up to his billing coming into the NFL, Erxleben was not a bad punter, averaging 40.6 yards-per-punt in five seasons with the team.
Out of football from 1984-1986, Erxleben punted in one game, his last career game, with the Detroit Lions in 1987.
Erxleben has had legal issues since his playing career ended, being convicted of securities fraud in 1999 and investment fraud in 2014.