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At the time, however, the Saints' three wins tied for the most ever for an expansion team's inaugural season.

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They improved slightly in 1968, putting up a 4–9–1 record as they competed in the Century Division against the Cleveland Browns, St.

Louis Cardinals, and Pittsburgh Steelers; in 1969, they returned to the Capitol Division (featuring the same division opponents as 1967) and managed to go 5–9.

The hotel, part of the Montrose-facing historical Fondren mansion of 1923, will remain, however.

Gerald Hines and Steve Zimmerman, joined by wives artist Barbara Hines and Becky Zimmerman, respectively, toasted to their new collaboration, as large-scale renderings of the entire development project were revealed.

The team started off well, with a 5–1 preseason record; then, on the first play of the 1967 regular season, wide receiver John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.

However, this was not enough for the Saints, and they lost their regular season opener to the Los Angeles Rams, 13–27.

The city of New Orleans was awarded an NFL franchise on November 1, 1966, thanks to a combination of local activism (most notably by David Dixon and by members of the local media, such as New Orleans States-Item sports editor Crozet Duplantier) and political force (Senator Russell Long and Congressman Hale Boggs, who made approval of the NFL-AFL merger conditional on the awarding of a franchise to New Orleans). The team was named "Saints" due to its birthday on the Roman Catholic Church's All Saints Day—a fitting nickname for a team in the largely Catholic New Orleans area. The team's original stadium was Tulane Stadium, which could seat more than 80,000 fans.

The team was placed in the Capitol Division of the NFL's Eastern Conference; their division foes were the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins.

In the 1971 NFL Draft, the Saints owned the second overall pick behind the Boston Patriots.

Deciding that a franchise quarterback was necessary, they selected Archie Manning out of Mississippi.

The 1970 season saw yet another realignment for the Saints due to the AFL–NFL merger.

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