The classic striping on the Saints’ helmet — and, for much of the team’s history, on their pants — has usually been black-white-black, with the white stripe in the middle. But for the last 12 games of 1968 (the team’s second season), the striping was reversed on both the helmets and the pants, with the black stripe in the center. You can see an example of this in the screen shot shown above, which is from the Saints/Giants game on Oct. 6, 1968.
But here’s the thing: Some players were still wearing the old pants with the white stripe in the center (for the rest of this entry, when I refer to a black or white stripe, you can assume I’m referring to the center stripe). For example, here’s a shot from that same game, and you can see that while most of the players’ pants have the black stripe, No. 42’s pants at the top of the frame have the white stripe:
This inconsistency was common for the ’68 Saints. In each of these next photos, the helmet stripes are black but the pants stripes are a mix of black and white:
None of this is new information. I’ve written about it before, and so have others.
But here’s something new, at least to me: There was a 1969 Hollywood movie — starring Charlton Heston, no less! — that preserved the Saints’ striping inconsistencies in cinematic grandeur.
Here’s the deal: In 1969, Heston starred in a movie called Number One, in which he played Cat Catlan, an aging Saints quarterback chasing faded glory on and off the field. I’d never heard of this movie until Uni Watch reader Brad Eenhuis recently brought it to my attention. The trailer is hilariously cheesy and definitely worth watching:
As you may noticed while watching the trailer, the helmet and pants stripes are wildly inconsistent. Here are some screen shots:
And here’s a press photo I found, showing Heston with a black-striped helmet and his center with a white-striped helmet:
So the movie apparently captured the Saints’ striping inconsistencies quite accurately!
The movie’s Wikipedia entry has some interesting additional info:
The National Football League permitted the New Orleans Saints’ name and jerseys to be used as opposed to many football films featuring professional teams with fictional names. However, this led to historical inaccuracies in the film, particularly in flashbacks of Catlan’s career. One flashback scene shows Catlan’s first game as a rookie for the Saints in what would’ve been the early 1950s; however, the Saints were founded in 1966 and began play the following season. Another flashback shows Catlan and the team celebrating a championship victory; however, the Saints did not win a championship at any point before the film was shot (or indeed, for several decades afterwards, their first title coming in 2010 at Super Bowl XLIV, nearly 50 years after the film was made).
Despite having All-Pro signal-caller Billy Kilmer as an instructor, Charlton Heston did not make a very convincing pro quarterback. “I marveled at how skinny he was in a Saints uniform,” said local DJ Bob Walker, who was an extra in the movie. “It hung on him like a cheap suit three sizes too big. When the cameras weren’t rolling we watched him try to throw some passes. His receiver was 10-20 yards away and his alleged passes didn’t come close.” Joe Wendryhoski, who basically played himself in the film as the Saints center, called Heston “a great guy, very sociable” who unfortunately “didn’t have an athletic bone in his body. As a quarterback, he left a lot to be desired.”
In the final scene when Catlan is crushed by the Dallas defense (portrayed by Saints players Mike Tilleman, Dave Rowe, and Fred Whittingham), neither Heston nor the producer felt the hit on him was realistic enough, so Heston asked them to cut loose to really make it look authentic. On the second take, the trio slammed the actor to the ground, breaking three of his ribs.
If you find all of that intriguing, the movie is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
(Big thanks to Brad Eenhuis for bringing this movie to my attention.)