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Saints 'O' line selected as 'MVP Protectors'

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — You cannot make this stuff up: When Archie Manning played quarterback for the Saints during the 1980s, he was sacked more than 300 times. On Wednesday, the current offensive line sent him to collect the inaugural "Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award" on its behalf.

"I never really wanted to know that number," Manning said about the sacks, laughing. "It's probably not a record, but I had a pretty good average going. It was around 40 or 50, and a lot of the times, it was my fault."

The trophy was handed out during Super Bowl week and inspired by Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and longtime broadcaster John Madden, himself a former NFL lineman. He appeared via video teleconference and said that while individual linemen receive recognition on occasion, it was time that the entire line gets the recognition it deserves. The award was sponsored by Prilosec OTC, a heartburn drug.

The offensive line helped the Saints lead the league in scoring and yards per game, averaging 31.9 points and 403.8 yards. The players are left tackle Jermon Bushrod, left guard Carl Nicks, center Jonathan Goodwin, right guard Jahri Evans and right tackle Jon Stinchcomb. All were drafted by the Saints, except Goodwin.

Evans was selected to the All-Pro team this season, while he, Goodwin and Stinchcomb made the Pro Bowl. Their accomplishments were even more impressive considering veteran Jammal Brown, a former Pro Bowl pick, missed the entire season because of injury.