In the past, my boyfriends were Willie Jackson and Jerome Pathon. Willie Jackson was the reason why the Saints won our first playoff game ever thanks to a 3-touchdown game. Jerome Pathon never lived up to his potential but he did make the touchdown as part of the River City Relay. (John Carney was not very popular among the family for a while after he missed that extra point.)
This season, my Saints boyfriend is Marques Colston. He is a rookie and he is making quite a stir among Saints fans and the rest of the league. He is getting a lot of press including this article in the NY Times. (Registration required so the whole article is behind the cut.)
Just Too Tempting to Pass Up
Marques Colston vividly remembers watching the N.F.L. draft in April, waiting for his name to be called.
Almost two days passed, and Colston was still waiting. Pizza turned cold. Drinks became warm.
Colston was perplexed. Did scouts and coaches not respect that he was the career leader in receiving yardage at Hofstra University, which also produced receiver Wayne Chrebet, who retired last December after 11 seasons with the Jets? Were people not impressed at the scouting combine, where Colston ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds?
“I know I’m biased,” Mark Clouser, Colston’s agent, said during a telephone interview, “but as the draft when on, I couldn’t believe that the N.F.L. was this clueless about Marques. Being conservative, I figured he’d be gone by the fourth round. He’s just what teams look for in a receiver: a 6-foot-4, 225-pound guy who can run, with good hands, and he’s a good person. I know he played Division I-AA, so that’s one stigma he had to overcome. But by the sixth round, I’m thinking, Whoever gets this guy now has stolen him.”
Four picks from the end of the draft, Colston was finally chosen by the Saints in the seventh round, the 252nd overall selection.
He packed his bags and headed to New Orleans, where fans were giddy about Reggie Bush, the celebrated first-round draft pick.
Most Saints fans had no idea who Colston was. They do now. Colston, who became a starter in training camp, leads all rookies with 374 receiving yards and has caught three touchdown passes. He is part of the influx of talent that has lifted the surprising Saints to a 4-1 record heading into Sunday’s home game against Philadelphia.
Colston has contributed more than receivers drafted long before him, like the first-rounder Santonio Holmes of Pittsburgh, and the second-rounders Greg Jennings of Green Bay, Chad Jackson of New England and Sinorice Moss of the Giants. Exceeding expectations, however, is nothing new for Colston.
A native of Harrisburg, Pa., he weighed 180 pounds when he graduated from high school. College football recruiters showed little interest. Missouri was the lone Division I-A program to offer Colston a scholarship, but by then he had committed to Hofstra.
“Being at Hofstra was great for me,” said Colston, who had 2,834 receiving yards during his college career. “I was able to develop at my own pace, without a lot of pressure.
“Does being almost overlooked in the draft motivate me? Yeah, it does. I knew I had to work hard, that nothing was going to be given to me. But I’ve been fortunate to come to a good place with good coaches and good players, where I fit in.”
Few people on Hofstra’s campus in Hempstead, N.Y., are surprised Colston has made a smooth adjustment to the N.F.L.
“He’s a very mature guy, just goes about his job and learns quickly,” said Jaime Elizondo, Hofstra’s receivers coach, who still has weekly conversations with Colston. “And I’ll tell you how tough he is. When he was here, he had arthroscopic knee surgery on a Tuesday, played the next Saturday and caught passes for over 100 yards. I mean on Friday, he was having trouble walking.”
It helped Colston that Sean Payton, the Saints’ rookie head coach, was looking to retool the roster to erase remnants of a losing tradition. Colston made a strong early impression, outworking veterans during training camp and making difficult catches during scrimmages and games.
He quickly became a favorite of the veteran wide receiver Joe Horn and quarterback Drew Brees, and they often pulled Colston aside to give him pointers and ease his transition. By late August, Colston’s play had made the veteran receiver Donte’ Stallworth expendable, and Stallworth was traded to Philadelphia for linebacker Mark Simoneau and a fourth-round draft pick.
That trade made Colston a starter, but he was ready for the job. With defenses focusing so much attention on Bush, Horn, Brees and running back Deuce McAllister, Colston has become a dependable offensive threat.
Colston had never been to New Orleans before he joined the Saints, and he is still learning his way around. But he has been struck by the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005, the spirit of the city’s people and the passion of Saints fans.
“This town loves this team, and you can tell how happy they are to have us back,” Colston said. “We all want to do our part, for three hours each week, to give these people something to smile about. We also want to make a difference for them in the community.”
Colston has made a difference on the field. Before the season, many people had low expectations for the Saints, and even lower expectations for Colston. He has proved people wrong, and his long wait during the draft has made him more appreciative of his success.
“I was one of those guys who always watched the whole draft anyway,” Colston said. “But it was a little different watching it, and waiting for somebody to pick me. Fortunately, everything worked out well. It took me a while to get picked, but I plan on being around for a long time.”