Quite a story has unfolded over the last few years when it comes to the New Orleans Saints, and one thing that has been a mainstay in the tale has been running back Deuce McAllister. The story began when he was drafted by the Saints in the 2001 NFL Draft as the 23rd overall pick.

Quite a story has unfolded over the last few years when it comes to the New Orleans Saints, and one thing that has been a mainstay in the tale has been running back Deuce McAllister.


The story began when he was drafted by the Saints in the 2001 NFL Draft as the 23rd overall pick.


That was back when the Saints were hoping to mold running back Ricky Williams into the kind of feature back former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka had with Walter Payton.


The Saints had high hopes for Williams. He was the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner and the fifth pick in the 1999 draft after Ditka traded all of the Saints’ picks to move up for the Texas star. After three lackluster seasons, he was traded to the Miami Dolphins.


It was then that McAllister stepped into a starting role with the Saints.


McAlllister had made a name for himself at Ole Miss, becoming the only player in Rebels history to record three seasons with more than 1,000 all-purpose yards.


In four of his eight seasons with the Saints, the Lena, Miss., native ran for more than 1,000 yards.


He holds New Orleans records for most rushing touchdowns and most career yards by a running back.


The Saints announced Tuesday that McAllister was given his release. The off-season move means he can test the waters and move on to another team.


The Saints’ decision to part ways with McAllister follows a series of knee injuries that cut into his playing time. In 2008, McAllister rushed for an uncharacteristic 418 yards and five touchdowns.


McAllister has been a fan favorite over his years in the black and gold. Chants of “Deuce” would often be heard around the Superdome when the Saints would call on No. 26 to carry the ball.


Football fans are a typically finicky bunch. When they hate you, they really hate you. But when they like you, it speaks volumes about how you carry yourself.


In a time when tarnished heroes seem to grab all the spotlight and the headlines, there are still old-school players who go out with their proverbial hard hat and lunch pail and play the game with class.


McAllister always carried himself as such a player. He was humble and a hard worker both on and off the field. Even a casual observer could see it.


He sponsored programs in support of children in both Louisiana and Mississippi through his “Catch 22 Foundation.”


History will remember McAllister as a leader through some of the most successful years the Saints ever had.


He’ll forever be remembered for amazing plays like when he pushed pile of players to score a touchdown in the Saints’ playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles to send them to their first NFC Championship Game in 2007.


Even when running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas emerged as stars, McAllister stayed focused on his place with the team. He always contributed in any capacity in which he was placed.


McAllister has said he will always consider New Orleans home. Even if he returns after his playing days are done to coach or work in the front office, he’ll surely be welcomed back. And he’ll always be remembered as one of the best to wear the black and gold.


Weekly Citizen (Gonzales, La.)