New Orleans Saints Draft Choices: Russell Erxleben (1979)
The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft will be held on Thursday, April 28, in Chicago, Illinois.
Between now and then, we’ll be looking back at all of the drafts of the New Orleans, from 1967-2015.
Yesterday, we looked back at 1978.
The 1979 draft was the 13th draft in the history of the Saints.
The pick: Russell Erxleben, a punter/placekicker, out of Texas.
After playing his collegiate football at Texas, where he set the record for the longest field goal in NCAA history with a 67 yard kick, and where he became the only three-time All-America punter in NCAA history, Erxleben was selected by the Saints with the 11th-overall pick in the 1979 NFL Draft.
A native of Seguin, Texas, Erxleben was expected to handle both punting and placekicking duties for the Saints in 1979, but things began on a sour note, as in his first NFL game, Erxleben, who was punting, had a snap go over his head in overtime during a game against the Atlanta Falcons, and headed toward the goal line.
He picked up the ball and attempted a chest pass, which was intercepted and returned for a game-winning touchdown by Atlanta’s James Mayberry.
The next week, in a game against the Green Bay Packers, Erxleben pulled the hamstring in his right leg, forcing the Saints to use fullback Tony Galbreath as their emergency placekicker and wide receiver Wes Chandler at punter, before signing Garo Yepremian and Rick Partridge to handle the kicking and punting chores, respectively, in Erxleben’s absence.
Going into the 1980 season, Erxleben was again given the chance to handle punting and placekicking duties, but missed a game-tying field goal attempt in a 26-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the season opener.
He made only 2-of-5 field goal attempts that season.
Erxleben would attempt only one more field goal, and two more PAT’s, following the 1980 season, and would end his time as a placekicker making 4-of-8 field goals, and all seven PAT’s.
And while he might not have lived up to his billing coming into the NFL, Erxleben was not a bad punter, averaging 40.6 yards-per-punt in five seasons with the team.
Out of football from 1984-1986, Erxleben punted in one game, his last career game, with the Detroit Lions in 1987.
Erxleben has had legal issues since his playing career ended, being convicted of securities fraud in 1999 and investment fraud in 2014.
The made a solid selection in the fourth round of the 1979 NFL Draft, taking Kentucky linebacker Jim Kovach, who went on to play 7 years for the team.