It’s never too early to start thinking about the official return of the NFL. This year, it happens on August 5, in Canton.
Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com reports that the Saints have volunteered to play in the game. (We’ve actually heard something a little stronger than that, and that the Saints are in.)
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said via email that he has no information about that specific issue.
The New Orleans connection is obvious, given that former Saints tackle Willie Roaf will be inducted that weekend. And with plenty of players likely to leave the team via free agency, the extra practice and non-game game time will help get the Saints ready to come out of the gates with the kind of start that can be parlayed into home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, enabling them to force the road to New Orleans through, well, New Orleans.
The Saints last played in the Hall of Fame game in 2007, against the Steelers. The other teams having a connection to this year’s class include the Seahawks (Cortez Kennedy), the Steelers (Dermontti Dawson, Jack Butler), the Jets (Curtis Martin), and the Vikings (Chris Doleman). Of those, the Jets have had the longest HOF drought; they last played in the game in 1992.