Pat Swilling – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
New Orleans Saints
As a third-round draft choice out of Georgia Tech, the New Orleans Saints believed Pat Swilling could be a good, solid player in the NFL. Little did the Saints know that Swilling would become the very best at what he did best.
As an outside linebacker, Swilling was the fastest, quickest pass rusher off the corner in the NFL. His speed was particularly accentuated playing indoors on the artificial turf of the Superdome.
Swilling became part of the very best linebacking corps in NFL history, joining the trio of Rickey Jackson, Vaughan Johnson and Sam Mills as part of the vaunted “Dome Patrol,” which terrorized opponents for seven straight seasons when they were a unit.
Swilling played in 107 games with New Orleans and he recorded 10 or more sacks in four of his seven seasons with the Saints. In 1989, he had 16.5 sacks. In 1990, Swilling had a career best 63 tackles, including 11 sacks.
Then came the special season of 1991.
The Saints captured their first-ever division title, winning the NFC West over the vaunted San Francisco 49ers. Swilling was a primary force in the success of the team.
He led the NFL with 17 sacks, recorded 60 tackles and forced six fumbles and was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Swilling was named first team All-Pro in 1991 and 1992 and made four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1989-1992.
In his final season in New Orleans, Swilling recorded 10.5 sacks.
Swilling was an integral part of the first winning season and first period of success in the history of the New Orleans Saints. He started on the first four playoff teams in Saints’ history in 1987, 1990, 1991 and 1992.
“Pat was an excellent player for us. He was a great all-around player, and he really excelled as a pass rusher – he was one of the best during his time in the league,” said former Saints head coach Jim Mora, also a Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Famer.
Swilling finished his stint in New Orleans with 76.5 sacks, trailing only Rickey Jackson (115) and Wayne Martin (82.5) in sacks in franchise history. He forced 24 fumbles and recovered seven in his seven seasons with New Orleans.
Following his tenure in New Orleans, Swilling spent two years in Detroit and three in Oakland. He had 107.5 career sacks, tallied six interceptions and forced 36 fumbles.
In 2000, Swilling was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. In 2009, Swilling was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He has lived in New Orleans since his retirement.
“I always believed that I could play and play at a high level in the NFL,” Swilling said. “We were excited to finally bring New Orleans a winner and to make multiple playoff appearances. It was an honor to play with Rickey, Vaughan and Sam. We made it very tough on opponents, especially when they came into our building. It is an honor to add the honor of being in the Hall of Fame of my hometown.”
Now, Swilling rightly takes his place in the city where he accomplished the most as a member of the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
Story submitted by Ken Trahan of the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee.