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Saints Short Story: Mount St. Haslett

Jim Haslett


Jeff Blake


Doug Brien


Gerry Austin


Mike McCarthy

From Tales from the Saints Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Stories Ever Told, Jeff Duncan (2004)
Jim Haslett's hair-trigger temper is notorious around the Saints complex.
Anyone who has worked for or with the fiery coach has felt his wrath at one time or another.
Saints ticket manager Mike Stanfield was one of the first victims.
It was the morning after a disappointing 31-22 home loss to Oakland in Haslett's first season. The Saints not only lost the game, they also lost QB Jeff Blake to a season-ending foot injury. Haslett was on a tear.
What set him off was the large contingent of Raider fans located in the lower section of the Superdome behind the north end zone. The gathering of notorious Raiders fans was so loud and unruly that the Saints offense struggled to call plays at that end of the field. The throng also did their best to throw off kicker Doug Brien during field goal and extra-point attempts.
When Stanfield arrived at work the following Monday, Haslett stormed into his office and lit into him. How could he be so stupid to sell blocks of seats in the lower bowl to opposing fans? From now on, every visiting team better receive upper deck seats or else!
From that point on, Stanfield sold only upper-deck tickets or scattered lower-bowl seats to the opposing teams.

Reporters felt Haslett's wrath, as well. At various times, Haslett has confronted or challenged every person on the beat.
He lit into Times-Picayune beat reporter Ted Lewis and threatened "to punch him in the face" in front of several players. Haslett was way out of line and was fortunate Lewis handled the matter with class.
Associated Press reporter Mary Foster told the Saints she planned to file a report on the incident, but Lewis did not want to make a big deal of the matter and asked her to drop it.
Still, a precedent had been set: When dealing with Haslett, treat the coach like nitroglycerin.

Haslett's favorite targets are officials. He disdains them. His detest for flag-happy referee Gerry Austin is known league-wide.
"He hates me and I hate him," Haslett once said.
One of offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy's earliest memories of Haslett came in a preseason game that Austin refereed against Philadelphia during the 2000 season.
Haslett, as usual, was on Austin's case from the start, and he didn't let up.
"He was screaming at him, 'Gerry, you're an asshole! You suck, Gerry!'" McCarthy said. "He wouldn't let up. And this went on for two or three series. I was laughing my ass off. I could hardly call plays.
"Finally, Gerry came over to the sidelines and said, 'You know I did referee the Super Bowl last year.'"

Early on, Haslett established himself as a notorious corner-cutter and envelope-pusher when it came to league rules. He routinely employed extraplayers on the practice squad. At the time, NFL rules allowed teams to keep five players on the practice or "taxi" squad each week. However, Haslett found a loophole in the process and managed to field an extra player or two at practice each week.
The practice was so common it became a running joke among reporters and team officials.
"How many players on the practice squad today, Haz? Seven or eight?" reporters would ask.
"We're actually legal today," Haslett would joke.

Haslett is a well-known gossip hound. He loves to talk. The juicier the information the better. Unfortunately, this gets him in trouble more often than not. His habit of talking to the media - both local and national - has always been a bane for general managers Mueller and Loomis.
Unfortunately for reporters, Haslett is just as loose with his facts as he was his lips. His penchant for inaccuracies and false facts became such a joke with local beat reporters that they kept a "Bad Haz Stat of the Day" listing on a marker board in the media room at the team facility. The list sometimes approached double digits from Haslett's weekly Monday press conferences.
All statistics purported by Haslett during press conferences were religiously double-checked for accuracy. Invariably, Haslett's numbers were off. More than one reporter who took Haslett's word on a story was burned by it.
His embellishment was legendary. When recounting stories, Haslett routinely stretched the truth. The old saying "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" applies perfectly to Haslett.
"He'll say anything if he thinks it helps him," said Falcons coach Jim Mora, who is good friends with Haslett from their coaching days on Mora's father's Saints staff. "He's like the Iraqi Minister of Propaganda."

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Saints Saga Archives - I

First Draft
Dazzling Debut: Archie Manning
Dazzling Debut: John Fourcade
The Sad Tale of Russell Erxleben
Could've, would've, should've
Profile: Billy Kilmer
"Shut that music off!"
Record Setter: Seven INTs
Profile: Morten Andersen
Memorable Game: Aints No More
Mascots to Fit the Team
Saints Get Moore from Lance

Saints Saga Archives - II

Bobby Hebert's Terrible Year
Memorable Game: Rams 10/23/94
Bum Takes Over
Dazzling Debut: Aaron Brooks
The Longest Boo
Profile: Tom Dempsey
The Love Affair Started Early
Record Breaker: 12 TD Passes
Firsts: Andersen Points, OT Victory
The Great Pizza Revolt

Saints Saga Archives - III

Profile: Ironhead Heyward
"One of the Oddest Two-Play Sequences in Saints History
"The Man Belongs in the Hall of Fame"
Profile: Michael Haynes
Ditka's Regime
First Victory
Memorable Game: Raiders 1979

Saints Saga Archives - IV

Streak Buster:Tampa Bay 1977
Dazzling Debut: Deuce McAllister
First 2-0 Start
"The Case of the Purloined Playbook"
Profile: Danny Abramowicz
"Black Sunday"
Dixon's Quest
Record-Setting Punt Returner
Profile: Bum Phillips
Memorable Game: Bears 1977

Saints Saga Archives - V

First 1,000y Rusher
Dazzling Debut: Marcus Dowdell
River City Relay
Emeril Helps the Saints I & II
Profile: Boy Owner I & II
We Sucked!
Profile: Bobby Hebert I, II, & III

Saints Saga Archives - VI

Hank Returns to KC
Streak Buster: Lone 1980 Win
Say Two Hail Marys and Beat the Saints
That Penalty Hurt!
Record Setter: Sam Mills 1992
Unlikely Victory
Big Plays Win It
First NFL Game in Mexico
Payton-Brees Regime Begins

Saints Saga Archives - VII

Take Me Out to the Brawl Game
Profile: Don Reese I and II
Memorable Games: Vince's Redskins I, II, III
Dobler Returns to the Dome I and II
Saints in Blue and Gold?
Walter Payton Gets the Record
Saints-49ers Shootout

Saints Saga Archives - VIII

Record-Setting Performance: Joe Horn 2003
Not So Dazzling Debut - Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson
Memorable Game: Pearl Harbor Day Disaster 1980
Memorable Game: Saints-Eagles 2007 Playoffs
Record-Setter: George Rogers
He looks funny in white pants
Profile: Monty Stickles

Saints Saga Archives - IX

Season in Time: 1987

Saints Saga Archives - X

Biggest Margins in Saints History
Firsts: Seven Wins, NFC Player of Year - 1978
Streak Buster: 1980 Opener

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