New Orleans Saints Flashback: Defensive End Frank Warren
During the heyday of the New Orleans Saints vaunted “Dome Patrol”, the defense of the Black & Gold was one of the best around. The 4 All-Pro linebackers of Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Vaughn Johnson, and Sam Mills were the notable stars. Aside from those four, several underrated defenders played in front of them, including the late Frank Warren.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Warren played at Auburn before the Saints selected him 57th overall in the 3rd round of the ’81 draft.
Warren played on the defensive line in New Orleans from 1981-1994, spending his entire 14 year career with the Saints. At 6’4, 285 pounds, Warren anchored an underrated Saints defensive line that helped plug up opposing offensive lines. However, Warren was more than a big body up front, he accrued 52.5 sacks in his career, including 9.5 in 1989.
A locker room favorite, Warren was a staple of a Saints defense that was described as the best in the league during the late 80s and early 90s. He was posthumously inducted to the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1999.
Warren struggled with his weight after retiring, admitting that he feared for his life on an episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, discussing the struggle that retired NFL lineman had with obesity. Tragically, 5 days after the show aired, Warren died of a heart attack at age 43 in December of 2002.
While he was never a pro-bowler and often overlooked by the national media, Warren is one of the best defensive lineman in Saints history. Outside of Wayne Martin, Warren ranks up at the top of the list with the likes of Joe Johnson, Derland Moore, and Jim Wilks.