But Quarterback Archie Manning has put a fraternal arm around Rogers' broad shoulders. "A No. 1 draft pick just doesn't turn a franchise around," says Manning. "I ought to know that." In his 10 years, the best the Saints ever did—the best season in their 14-year history—was 8-8 in 1979. "I won't be the one to put pressure on George, I assure you," says Manning. "If I could, I'd take all his pressure and add it to mine. I'm 10 years older than he is."
Manning thinks Phillips' relaxed manner and country humor will also help ease the pressure on Rogers. Last week Phillips demonstrated his knack for deflating an issue before it gets blown out of proportion when he was asked if Manning would call his own plays this season. "No," said Bum, "he'll call our plays. We ain't going to let him make up any."
Although Rogers was homesick and hot and itching to carry the football in live drills, he loved playing along with the routine rookie hazing. One evening at dinner the call came: "No. 1, get up!" Rogers stood on his chair. But he didn't know the words to the South Carolina fight song, so he sang something else. "I sang that song from Hee Haw" he says.
"You know, the one that goes, 'Where oh where are you tonight / Why'd you leave me here all alone....' You know. [Singing] 'I searched the world over and thought I found true love / You met another and fffttt....' "
When the Saint veterans began arriving late last week, they had a little heehaw of their own in mind for Rogers, involving "the bucket." The bucket is a gold plastic mop pail with a square cutout framed by a football face mask. On command from a veteran, a rookie is required to wear it for an entire day, whenever he is outdoors. "A veteran on the Saints is someone who has been here through at least six coaches," said one player who has yet to qualify. "One year we had two No. 1's—Larry Burton, a short black guy, and Kurt Schumacher, a big white guy—so we got two buckets and tied the two of them together with a rope. It was great."
"I kind of like the bucket idea," said Rogers. "It'll keep the sun off my head."
Rogers is surely an atypical No. 1. He says money means little to him, that he's not interested in "rich things." His clothes consist of blue jeans and T shirts—except for a pair of ostrich-skin boots Phillips gave him, the only boots he's ever owned. His first act after signing was to buy his mother a new house, and he's in the process of buying one for the aunt who helped raise him.
Next he bought a dog, a Rottweiler that he named "38," which was—and is—Rogers' number. With 38 in tow, he went to check out cars. "I took a Trans-Am for a test drive, and the dog vomited all over the front seat. I was so embarrassed, I felt I better buy a car from the guy. Not the Trans-Am. A Mazda."
He also bought himself a house—in Columbia, S.C. New Orleans was ruled out when Rogers learned it is four feet below sea level. "One hurricane and everyone'll drown," he says. And anyway, New Orleans is "too fast" for this country boy. "I heard that people stay out late there," he says. "Not just late, but till three or four in the morning. That's not for me. I don't drink or smoke or stay out late. Just snuff. It's my only vice."