Friday, October 22, 2010

Joe Horn Joins Saints' Hall; Brooks Makes Surprise Appearance

Hollywood was back down south on Friday afternoon as retired wide receiver Joe Horn, one of the most accomplished players with the New Orleans Saints, was inducted into his former team's Hall of Fame.

The ceremony, held at the Landmark Hotel in Metairie, marked the return of the passionate and talented playmaker whose leaping catches and fancy footwork bedeviled opposing defensive backs.

Prior to saying his piece, Horn's father-in-law, a church deacon, shared with the assembled a story of Horn's well-known generosity, once selling his primary means of transportation to a church for fifty cents.

Though quite the talker on the field, Horn delivered a relatively brief speech praising his family, friends and God for the blessings that allowed him to excel on the gridiron. Horn also had some words for Saints owner Tom Benson, who also sat on the dais. While acknowledging previous hard feelings between him and the Saints organization related to his release from the team in 2007, Horn offered thanks and praise for Benson for the years he spent with the team.

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis, the official who cut Horn, also attended the luncheon.

While a number of Saints luminaries and team hall inductees were on hand, two of Horn's longtime Saints teammates were present, retired kick returner and Saints ambassador Michael Lewis and ex-Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks. Brooks's appearance was a surprise to both Horn and the Saints Hall of Fame administrators, who hastily set up another chair on the dais for the quarterback and his primary receiver to be joined together one last time.

Horn expressed his appreciation for Brooks's presence durig his induction address. Horn didn't know Brooks was present until he ran into him in the hotel lobby. Upon seeing Horn, Brooks, who now lives in Virginia, said that he wanted to be there for his receiver's big day.

Horn also expressed his deep gratitude to Saints fans, even commenting on the opinion of more than a few that he should have received one of the 2009 team's Super Bowl rings. While he appreciated their thoughts, Horn said it would be inappropriate for him to have that honor as those who received the coveted diamond rings from the 2009 team earned them.

At the conclusion of Horn's comments, the portrait of him that will hang in the Saints Hall of Fame was unveiled, a close-up of Horn with an intense expression wearing a Saints helmet. Horn stuck around at the end of the festivities to sign autographs and pose for pictures with his numerous fans.

Also honored on Friday were longtime Saints equipment managers Dan "Chief" Simmons and Silky Powell, who received the Joe Gemelli "Fleur de Lis Award" for dedication to the organization. In tribute to both of these veteran employees of the team, former players that were present quickly stood up in unison and loudly applauded when Simmons and Powell were recognized.

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