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News » New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-02-21

New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-02-21

New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-02-21
The day loyal Saints fans hoped would never come indeed came Tuesday when the team released popular running back Deuce McAllister in a move that helped reduce the payroll just 10 days before the start of free agency.

Both General Manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton acknowledged it was difficult to part with McAllister, whose solid work ethic on the field was matched by his sense of pride and charitable work in the community since the day the Saints made him their top draft pick in 2001.

McAllister, who along with quarterback Archie Manning may be the most popular players in club history, ends his career with the Saints as their all-time leader in rushing yards (6,096 yards) and record holder for rushing touchdowns (49) and total TDs (55).

A two-time Pro Bowl pick, McAllister put up those numbers despite playing in only 36 of 64 games dating to the start of the 2005 season. Since then, he tore the ACL in both knees and had microfracture surgery on his right knee and an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee.

That's a lot of wear and tear on any NFL player, let alone a 30-year-old running back, and was one of the reasons (along with a salary cap figure of more than $7 million for 2009) the Saints let him go. McAllister also had a diminished role in the offense this season, falling behind Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas on the depth chart -- mainly because of his knees.

Though neither McAllister nor Loomis would rule out the possibility of the team negotiating a new contract with McAllister down the road, both admitted that was highly unlikely. McAllister said he still has the itch to play and estimated he could play three more years -- if another team wants him.

"They say all good things must come to an end," said McAllister, who brought a pair of sunglasses to a news conference in case his emotions got the better of him. "Obviously, as a player, this is a day that you dread."

McAllister, a native of the Jackson, Miss., area, said he would always consider New Orleans home and that he'll carry on with his community service endeavors -- which primarily helps underprivileged kids through his Catch 22 Foundation.

During the news conference, McAllister acknowledged adoring Saints fans who would chant "D-e-u-u-u-u-u-c-e" whenever they wanted him to carry the ball or get on the field -- which was often the case last season.

"To the fans of the New Orleans Saints, it's been a blessing ... it's been an honor to be able to play every Sunday, or Monday, or Thursday -- whatever day it may have been -- and to hear my name," McAllister said. "I've been blessed and I just want to tell everyone, thank you.

"It's definitely a shock, and I understand in some ways it may hurt to a lot of fans," he said of his release, "but at the same time, I want them to continue to support the Saints. They were hopefully a Saints' fan before I got here and they'll continue to be a Saints' fan once I'm gone. I want them to continue to support this organization and hopefully bring a championship to this team."

With that said, McAllister made it clear he holds no hard feelings against Saints' management.

"There's no animosity at all on my part," he said. "Hey, it just didn't work. At the end of the day, it didn't work. But at the same time, I'm going to remember the good memories that we've had."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 21, 2009

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