Jim Finks – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
New Orleans Saints
In 1986, Jim Finks took over as general manager of a New Orleans Saints team that had never experienced a winning season in its 19-year history. His first move was to hire Jim Mora as his head coach. In their second season (1987) with the Saints, Finks and Mora’s charges won 12 games for the organization’s first winning season. Finks was named NFL Executive of the Year.
In 1991, the Saints captured their first-ever division crown. The organization would make four playoff appearances in Finks’ sevens seasons before lung cancer forced him into retirement and ultimately took his life.
Prior to taking over the reins of the Saints organization, Finks served as the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings (1964-73) and the Chicago Bears (1974-82). During his time with the Vikings, they established a fearsome defensive known as the “Purple People Eaters.” He was named NFL Executive of the Year in 1973 after the Vikings defeated the Dallas Cowboys to reach the Super Bowl. When he joined the Bears in 1974, he was their first true general manager as owner George Halas had made the majority of football decisions for their existence. Finks modernized the team and in 1977, the Bears made the playoffs for the first time since 1963.
A product of St. Louis, he attended the University of Tulsa and was a 12th-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1949. He played six years with the Steelers (1951-56) as a defensive back and quarterback.
When Finks was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995, he became the first Hall-of-Famer whose enshrinement was based substantially on achievements with the Saints.
He was also elected to the University of Tulsa’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1987 and the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1994.
Born August 31, 1927, Finks died May 8, 1994 at the age of 66.