Top 5 New Orleans Saints Fullbacks Of All-Time
Who are the top 5 fullbacks in the history of the New Orleans Saints?
Yesterday, we unveiled the five best running backs in franchise history.
Today, we stay in the offensive backfield.
1)---TONY GALBREATH---After finishing his college career at Missouri, Galbreath was selected by the Saints in the second round of the 1976 NFL Draft. A native of Fulton, Missouri, Louisiana, Galbreath made an immediate impact as a rookie, rushing for 570 yards and 7 touchdowns, as part of the backfield labeled “Thunder & Lightning” with fellow rookie Chuck Muncie. Galbreath continued his steady play over the next three seasons, rushing for at least 600 yards, with 173 receptions to go with it, including 74 catches in 1978, which ranked second in the league. After playing with the Saints for five seasons, Galbreath was, at the time, #2 in all-time rushing yards for the team. Galbreath was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1981, where he played for three years, before going to the New York Giants, where he played for four years, prior to retiring after the 1987 season. When his career came to an end, Galbreath had 490 receptions, the most by a running back in the history of the NFL. Galbreath was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1991. Galbreath, who played for the Saints from 1976-1980, Galbreath finished 2,865 rushing yards, 2,221 receiving yards, 5,086 total yards, and 33 touchdowns.
2)---HOKIE GAJAN---A 10th-round selection by the Saints in 1981 out of LSU, Gajan played four years (1982-1985) for the Saints. before injuries cut short his career. 1984 was his best season, when he gained 615 yards on 102 carries. Through 2016, Gajan remains just one of 19 NFL running backs to exceed six yards per carry in a (100 or more attempt) season. Gajan missed the entire 1986 season due to a knee injury, and then was forced to retire after injuring his other knee in 1987. In four seasons with the Saints, Gajan rushed for 1,358 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also had 515 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Following his playing days, Gajan work as a scout, and then as the team's color analyst for radio broadcasts. Sadly, Gajan, a fan favorite both on and off the field, was diagnosed with a rare cancer known as liposarcoma in the fall of 2015, and prior to passing away in April of 2016.
3)---WAYNE WILSON---He played running back/fullback for the New Orleans Saints for seven full seasons, from 1979-1985, as well as part of the 1986 season. Born in 1957 in Montgomery County, Maryland, Wilson went on to play college football at Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, before being drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 12th round of the 1979 NFL Draft. After being released by the Oilers, Wilson caught on with the Saints, where he played for next seven-plus seasons, rushing the football 658 times for 2,462 yards and 16 touchdowns, while catching 170 passes for 1,517 yards and 14 touchdowns, along with 68 kickoff returns for 1,565 yards. He had his best season in a New Orleans uniform in 1983, when he rushed for 787 yards and nine touchdowns, combining with George Rogers to rush for 1,931 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 1985, he led the team in rushing, with 645 yards on 168 carries. The Saints released Wilson five games into the 1986 season, after which time he signed with the Minnesota Vikings, where he played the remainder of the year.
4)---CRAIG HEYWARD---Heyward was selected by the Saints with the 24th-overall pick, in the first round, of the 1988 NFL Draft. A native of Passaic, New Jersey Heyward, whose nickname was “Ironhead”, played both tailback and fullback for the Saints. The 5-foot-11, 260-pound Heyward played in 11 games as a rookie in 1988, starting 8, rushing for 355 yards and a touchdown, before his stats dropped in 1989, rushing for only 183 yards and one score. He bounced back in 1990, with his best season as a Saint, rushing for 599 yards and 4 touchdowns, including back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against the Bengals and Buccaneers, in weeks 7-8, when he rushed for a combined 277 yards and 3 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Heyward couldn’t continue to match that success, rushing for 260 yards in 1991, and 416 in 1992, in last season in New Orleans. After one season in Chicago, Heyward went to Atlanta, where he became a top-flight running back, rushing for 779 yards and 7 touchdowns in 1994, before rushing for a career-high 1,083 yards and 6 touchdowns in 1995, when he made the Pro Bowl. Heyward spent one more season in Atlanta, before playing one season each in St. Louis and Indianapolis, prior to retiring following the 1998 season. Sadly, Heyward died of cancer in 2006, at the young age of 39. In 5 seasons with the Saints, Heyward played in 66 games, rushing for 1,813 yards and 13 touchdowns.
5)---MIKE KARNEY---A 5th round draft choice out of Arizona St. by the Saints in 2004, Karney played five years (2005-2008), gaining 79 yards, while scoring 5 touchdowns. His work was done as a lead blocker however, as he was known as one of the best blocking fullbacks in football during his time with the Saints, being selected to the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2007. Karney finished his career in St. Louis, playing with the Rams from 2009-2010. The 5-foot-11, 260-pound Karney helped the Saints to their first appearance in the NFC Championship Game in 2006.