New Orleans Saints Legends of the Fall: Sammy Knight

Sean Williams
Sammy Knight went from UnDrafted Free Agent to the Pro Bowl for the New Orleans Saints. | Photo Credit:


For some, the word is the ultimate motivational factor. Continuing a family legacy has brought four Lombardi Trophies at long last into the Manning household. 

Sammy D Knight knows all about legacy. His father, Sam Sr., was a state championship basketball player at Riverside (CA) Community College under the legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian. His brother Ryan Knight was a four-year letterman at USC (1984-87) playing tailback for the Trojans. He led the team in rushing in 1985 and 1986. Brother Greg was a defensive lineman for Colorado in 1986, and brother Darryl was a three-year letterman (1998-2000) at linebacker for USC.

Born September 10, 1975, Sammy graduated from Rubidoux High School in Riverside, California. He would go on to the University of Southern California, and enjoy a stellar career there which saw him continue that university's legacy of defensive backs. His would be added to names like Ronnie Lott and Steve Atwater at USC and in 1996, Knight was chosen as the Trojans Most Valuable Player and he'd earn All-Pac 10 First-team honors.

Graduating USC in 1997, Knight was considered undersized and slow for playing safety in the NFL by draft scouts, despite his successes at USC. 


So, the draft came and went...

Knight found his way to the New Orleans Saints as an UnDrafted Free Agent following that 1997 draft. And all he did was go on to become quite possibly the best safety to ever play for this organization.

Quickly becoming a starter for the Saints, Knight was a destructive force to the opposition. A hard-hitting safety with ball-hawking ability, he had instincts and the "football IQ" that so many people talk about. Although the opposition and date escape me, I still remember an opening day game where Knight had three  interceptions. He just always seemed to be where the ball was. Knight scored four touchdowns in his six-year career with New Orleans, as well as countless forced fumbles he helped to create.

Perhaps the best description of Sammy Knight that I've ever heard came from a writer I respect a lot, Andrew Juge, back in 2011. 

"You remember the ridiculous season Darren Sharper had for the Saints back in 2009? It was kind of like that, except Knight did that for the team every season for six years."

And there is absolutely a case to be made for Sammy Knight being the best DB in the now 50-year history of this team.

Sammy would be selected to his only Pro Bowl, and be selected All-Pro following the 2001 season for New Orleans. He would play one more season in New Orleans before the team elected not to pay the big bucks to keep him in 2002. So the team and Knight parted on bad terms. 



He would go on to play two years in Miami, two years in Kansas City, and two more one-year stints in Jacksonville and with the Giants.

Over the course of his twelve-year career, he finished with 42 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles, along with 792 tackles and 9.0 sacks.

In 2010-2011, Knight would return to his alma mater USC and serve as a graduate assistant, primarily working with safeties.

And also in 2011, Knight's career would culminate in the city of New Orleans as the Saints would induct him into the team's Hall of Fame for his six-year career for them.

Sammy Knight has somehow always been connected to a legacy. The Knight family and USC defensive backs, he furthered those legacies by being a part of them. And in doing so, he managed to create a legacy of his own.

Sammy Knight is absolutely a Saints legend.


More Legends of the Fall: Will SmithHokie GajanHenry Childs, Michael Lewis

Sean Williams is a Featured Analyst for Along with covering the New Orleans Saints, he is also NFC West division coordinator and an editor.

You can follow Sean on Twitter @drewsdad3721, on Facebook on the WHODAT NATION:REDEMPTION page, and on the forums of PFS.

User Feedback

Another great read Sean! Three interceptions in one game is crazy, not something you see too often. Sounds like this dude was sneakingly one of the best defensive backs in Saints history.

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Thank you guys so very much for your ever-loyal support of my work. It is always very humbling to me the quantity of people that you can touch via this platform. And as long as you guys read them, I will keep on keeping on!!

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