Plenty of rooting interest for Myers

Saturday, February 6, 2010 10:21 PM EST

Tom Myers has one simple message for New Orleans Saints fans this weekend — enjoy the game.

“You never know, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Myers said Friday afternoon. “They waited 42 years for this. It’s really something. And let me tell you, they are nuts about that football team.”

For Myers, a former All-Pro safety that played for the Saints from 1972 to 1982, this weekend has been particularly sweet.

Yesterday, friend and former teammate Rickey Jackson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Tonight, the Saints face the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, the first-ever appearance for New Orleans.

“My wife and I are going to stay here and the two of us are going to watch it,” Myers said. “I think we will head out to a party afterwards, or at least once the issue’s been decided. We want to watch this game. Usually what ends up happening is you only end up watching like a quarter of the Super Bowl. But not this year.”

Myers, now a 25-year veteran in the insurance business who lives in the Houston, Texas area, is originally from just outside Syracuse.

But Myers and his family moved to New Britain prior to Myers’ senior year of high school in 1967. As it turns out, the Myers’ picked a perfect house as their new residence.

“They moved into a house on Alexander Road, right next to my aunt,” said Frank Cuomo, a leading partner of Berlin Insurance Exchange. “I was a co-captain on the Pulaski football team that year, so my aunt gave Tommy my number. He called me, we got together, worked out and have been friends since. He’s a great guy.”

Myers was a welcome addition to a Pulaski High School football team that prominently featured Cuomo, former Farmington High School football coach Bruce Wearne and former New Orleans Saint and Oakland Raider Willie Hall.

That year the Generals put together a strong season, losing only one game — to New Britain on Thanksgiving — and winning the Class B state title.

After his one year in New Britain, Myers headed back to upstate New York to begin his collegiate career at Syracuse University.

Myers, who grew up watching Syracuse greats like Floyd Little, Larry Csonka and Jim Nance, would put together a fine four-year career with the Orangemen. He still holds school records for most interceptions in one game (three) and most interception return yards in a career (218). His 18 career interceptions are second all-time at Syracuse.

After Syracuse, Myers was selected by the Saints with the 22nd pick in the third round (74th overall) in the 1972 NFL Draft, which he admits caught him by surprise.

“Four guys from our team at Syracuse played over 10 years in the NFL,” Myers said. “We had a talented group there. I knew I was going to get drafted. ... But I was surprised to be drafted by New Orleans, the reason being that I played in three or four all-star games after the season and I only talked to a New Orleans scout once.

“So yes, when they drafted me I was kind of surprised. But I was also pleased because it was a young team. They had only been around four years, so I knew there would be an opportunity to play quickly.”

After starting six games in his rookie season, Myers started 115 of his 123 games in the next nine seasons before missing the 1982 season with a shoulder injury.

Over those 10 years with New Orleans, Myers racked up 36 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries, along with four defensive touchdowns. Myers was twice named to the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro honors for his 1979 season.

After the 1982 season, Saints coach Bum Phillips traded Myers to the Buffalo Bills. But the Bills cut ties with Myers in the preseason.

That spring Myers latched on with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers, a team coached by NFL great Jack Pardee and quarterbacked by future Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly.

After two years with the Gamblers, Myers called it a career, at least on the gridiron. He has been in the insurance business ever since, though he lent a helping hand to Jackson when it came time for the linebacker to re-new his contract.

“Rickey, he was really street smart, but maybe not too book smart. Back then I called all the defenses, so he stuck around me and I sort of became a mentor to him. And he asked me to help him with his first big contract. I told him I wouldn’t do it unless he promised to put some money away for retirement.”

Myers, a father of four, has played with players like Archie Manning and played under coaches like former Syracuse great Floyd “Ben” Schwartzwalder.

But when he looks at the Saints now, there isn’t much in the way of familiarity.

“The ownership has changed,” Myers said. “There are only three employees still from my time, two equipment guys and one trainer. I’ll talk to them maybe once or twice a year and if I’m down there on business I’ll try to stop by and say hello.”

But the Saints and Myers will always be connected.

“I’m a little old for Tommy,” Myers said. “But, down there, they still call me Tommy." 





Can't take the New Britain out of ex-Raider Hall

Sunday, October 25, 2009 9:29 PM EDT [New Britain Herald]

The way Lisa Perry sees it, “You can take the boy out of New Britain, but you can’t take New Britain out of the boy.” She got a big kick out of the fact that her brother called one day last week to say he’d just arrived in his old hometown and was headed straight to one of his old haunts — Capitol Lunch.

This was not incidentally a minor drive from a nearby suburb. He was coming from California. Fresno to be exact. And if the popular hot dog emporium is a local legend, Mrs. Perry’s brother is a national one. He’s Willie Hall, better known as “Sonny” to friends and family and one of the heroes of Super Bowl XI to Oakland Raiders fans everywhere.

Hall, a councilor, mentor and advisor to at-risk young people in California, remains active in the Raiders alumni, generally regarded as the most close-nit group of former players in the National Football League. “He also stays in touch with his family and friends here,” said his sister, who was taking part in Grandparent’s Day activities at Newington’s John Paterson School, when she related the story of her famous brother’s visit and inevitable first stop. Mrs. Perry’s granddaughter, Alaysiah Hall, Sonny’s great niece, is a student at the school

The former Pulaski High star earned All-America honors at University of Southern California before being drafted by the New Orleans Saints along with his high school teammate Tommy Myers. Later traded to the Raiders, he became an All-Pro linebacker under Coach John Madden. He has three children, two sons and a daughter, who was recently married on the West Coast.