Defensive tackle Norman Hand, a star of the Saints' 2000 playoff run, has died at the age of 37 in his home in South Carolina on Friday.
Hand emerged as a starter in the NFL in 1998 in San Diego and signed a free agent contract with the Saints in the spring of 2000. Next to La'Roi Glover, the Saints' defensive line was suddenly the best in the league with rookie Darren Howard and veteran Joe Johnson at the ends.
The four starters on the defensive line generated 43 sacks in 2000. The Saints' entire defense generated 35 sacks in 2009. That immense production was fueled by Hand's dominance as a run-stopping, double-team drawing defensive tackle. Glover tied for the lead league in sacks at 17 and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Fox Sports broadcaster Howie Long awarded Hand his "Tough Guy" Award in 2000.
Hand was traded from the Saints to the Seahawks in during the 2003 Draft. Hand played at the University of Mississippi, Itawamba Junior College and Walterboro High School in South Carolina. After the Seahawks, he spent a year with the Giants.
He is survived by a wife and two children.
Local news station WCSC has a great article on Hand from his hometown.