J. D. Roberts
Personal information
Born:(1932-10-24)October 24, 1932
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Died:May 25, 2021(2021-05-25) (aged 88)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Career information
High school:Dallas (TX) Jesuit
NFL Draft:1954 / Round: 17 / Pick: 195
Career history
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season:7–25–3 (.243)
Coaching stats at PFR

John David Roberts (October 24, 1932 – May 25, 2021) was an American college and professional football coach. He was the head coach of the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL) from the middle of the 1970 season until his dismissal after four preseason games in 1973. He played college ball for the Oklahoma Sooners.

Early life and high school

Roberts was born in Oklahoma City, but moved to Dallas at the age of 6. Even as a youth, he had interest in football: he and one of his friends sold programs before football games at the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas.[1] He played three years of football on both offense and defense at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, from which he graduated in 1950.[2] He was named to the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 1994.[3] Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas added him to their Hall of Fame in 1999.[4]


Roberts played as a guard on offense and defense for the University of Oklahoma. He won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top college lineman in 1953. That same year, he was a consensus All-America selection. He went on to be named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.[5] He finished 8th in the Heisman Trophy vote in 1953.[6]


Roberts was chosen in the 17th round (195th overall) of the 1954 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. However, he never played in a regular season NFL game.[7] He served as a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and played for the Quantico Marines football team in 1955. A leg injury in 1956 ended his playing career and he instead served as an assistant to Quantico head coach Hal Harwood.[8]

After leaving the Marines, Roberts served as an assistant football coach at the University of Denver, University of Oklahoma, the U.S. Naval Academy, Auburn University, and the University of Houston.[1][9][10] In 1967 he became a scout and linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints.[11] He then served as head coach of the Saints' Atlantic Coast Football League affiliate, the Richmond Roadrunners until he was hired to coach the Saints.[12]

Roberts was hired by Saints owner John Mecom on November 3, 1970, replacing Tom Fears after New Orleans began 1970 with a 1–5–1 record. His first game came five days later at Tulane Stadium against the Detroit Lions. The Saints won 19–17 when Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard (58 m) field goal, a record which broke the previous NFL mark by seven yards. Dempsey's record was tied by Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos in 1998, Sebastian Janikowski of the Oakland Raiders in 2011, and David Akers of the San Francisco 49ers in 2012, but nobody had bettered the mark until December 8, 2013 when Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos successfully made a 64-yard (59 m) field goal.

The Saints' success did not carry over following Dempsey's miracle kick. A 21–10 loss the next week to the Miami Dolphins started a six-game losing streak which left the Saints with a 2–11–1 mark for the season.

With the second pick in the 1971 NFL Draft, Roberts and Mecom selected Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning, who became the cornerstone for the woebegone franchise for the next decade. In Manning's first NFL game, his two-yard touchdown run on the game's final play gave the Saints a 24–20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, the same team which defeated the Saints in the franchise's first game in 1967. Four weeks later, the Saints stunned the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys 24–14, but New Orleans finished the season 4–8–2.

New Orleans regressed sharply in 1972, falling back to 2–11–1, and Roberts was fired shortly after a 31–6 preseason loss to the New England Patriots on August 25, 1973.


Roberts went on to run an oil and gas business in Oklahoma City.[1]

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
NO 1970 1 6 0 .143 4th in NFC West
NO 1971 4 8 2 .333 4th in NFC West
NO 1972 2 11 1 .154 4th in NFC West
NO Total 7 25 3 .243
Total 7 25 3 .243



  1. ^ a b c Trotter, Jake (August 28, 2010). "Collected Wisdom: Former University of Oklahoma football player J.D. Roberts". NewsOK. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  2. ^ Official Site of the Dallas Jesuit Rangers, "J.D. Roberts". Available online: https://jesuitrangers.org/hof.aspx?hof=68&mobile=skip Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  3. ^ Texas Sports Hall of Fame, "Texas High School Football Hall of Fame". Available online: http://www.tshof.org/about/thsfhof/ . Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  4. ^ Official Site of the Dallas Jesuit Rangers, ibid.
  5. ^ Soonersports.com, "All-American: J.D. Roberts." Available online: http://www.soonersports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=208798502 . Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  6. ^ Sports-reference.com, "Jd Roberts" [sic]. Available online: https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/jd-roberts-1.html . Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  7. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com, "1954 NFL Draft". Available online: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/1954/draft.htm . Downloaded September 24, 2018.
  8. ^ Jones, Elwood R. (September 1956). "Football Forecast". Leatherneck.
  9. ^ "Roberts New Oklahoma Aide". The New York Times. January 30, 1958.
  10. ^ "Auburn Aide Resigns: Roberts Will Coach Linemen in New Post at Houston". The New York Times. December 25, 1961.
  11. ^ "Former Saints coach J.D. Roberts dies; picked Archie Manning". The Buffalo News. May 26, 2021.
  12. ^ Jeff Duncan, Tales from the New Orleans Saints Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Saints Stories Ever Told (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012), chapter 2.
  13. ^ "J.D. Roberts Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks - Pro-Football-Reference.com".