July 8, 2010

Former Saints coach North passes away at 89

Former Saints head coach John North, Jr., died at age 89 on Tuesday. 

He passed away at his home in Mandeville, Louisiana. A native of Old Hickory, TN, North lived on the North Shore for the past 27 years.  A veteran of the Pacific Theater of World War II with the Marines, North is an alum of Vanderbilt University.  He was drafted by the Redskins and played professional for the Baltimore Colts.

North was the third coach in franchise history, leading the team between 1973 and 1975. 

He also coached offensive line at LSU during the Charlie McClendon era from 1962 to 1964.  After his NFL coaching career, North coached quarterbacks for the USFL's New Orleans Breaker in 1984.

North guided the Saints franchise through troubled years, including the 1974 preseason players strike, a labor battle that the players lost, and the first of three players strikes before the final breakthrough into free agency in 1993.
North was promoted to head coach during preseason of the 1973 season when JD Roberts was fired in August.  North himself would then be fired six games into the 1975 season by owner John Mecom, having coached 34 regular season games, resulting in only 11 victories.

QB Archie Manning played his second, third and fourth seasons in the league for North, where the New Orleans offense never finished better than 24th in the league in yards or 17th in the league in yards.  The Saints offense did not score more than 21 points in a single game during North's tenure.

His first regular season game as head coach was a 62-7 loss to the Falcons in Tulane Stadium, which remains the worst loss in team history. 

North's funeral will be this Saturday in Covington, Louisiana.

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