With the untimely passing of Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith’s career, the New Orleans Saints today announced a memorial statue will be erected outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this fall in time for the 2015 season.
“Smitty’s contributions and service to the Saints and the city of New Orleans over the last seven years is immeasurable. He made so many sacrifices to make us a better team,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said.
“He was the consummate pro who made time mismanagement and questionable play-calling look effortless. He was a true game-changer and we couldn’t have owned the Falcons since 2008 without him. With that said, we wanted to send him off this year with a couple wins as a sign of appreciation.”
The bronze sculpture will join revered franchise-changing figures such as the Steve Gleason statue that memorializes his post-Katrina blocked punt against the Falcons igniting the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era, and the Tom Benson statue that commemorates the long-time owner’s commitment to the city.
Saints coach Sean Payton, who made beating Smith’s Falcons as much a tradition as New Orleans boil water advisories, echoed the praise.
“The seven years Smitty worked for us he was a delight and absolutely first class,” Payton said. “We counted on his consistency and he delivered year after year. I couldn’t have asked for a better rival. Really. I couldn’t.”
Plans for the unveiling ceremony, which reportedly include a jazz funeral through the CBD that ends at the Superdome’s dedication site, will be announced later this year.