Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The sad news of the passing of Hokie Gajan; beloved LSU Tiger, New Orleans Saint and radio personality; what a tragic week for the Saints family and fans

Remembering Hokie Gajan

Hokie Gajan has succumbed to his illnesses today. He was 56 years old.

The former LSU Tiger, New Orleans Saint and WWL Radio legend is survived by his wife Judy, daughters Jennifer, Kristin, Megan & Alexis (Peanut), loving family and friends and Tiger fans and Who Dats across America.

Bobby Hebert and Hokie go back to 1976 - Baker vs. South Lafourche in the playoffs. "Hokie was the most down to earth professional athlete that I ever knew," Bobby said. "He was the common man's favorite football player, as tough as they come. I always enjoyed doing shows with Hokie, because he was always straightforward, no BS, and I always enjoyed sharing outdoor fishing, and hunting stories with him, too... next to his family, that was Hokie's greatest passion."

Jim Henderson, the Voice of the Saints, describes Gajan as “a man’s man.“  Henderson and Gajan worked together as a broadcast tandem since 2000, but Jim admired Hokie long before the two started calling games together. “I loved him dearly.  He’s one of the best people... so true and genuine; he’s one of the most original people I’ve ever met. There were no acts, or anything false about Hokie.  Everything you see is very true with him.”

“He was a family man," Henderson continued. "You could see him light up when it came to his grandkids or his family.  He was very proud of his daughters, and a very loving husband."  

Jim knows well that Hokie had a way of captivating an audience that most don’t. “Even if you don’t know Hokie personally, his warmth and character have come through during broadcasts, much like when he was playing - he made himself into a fantastic player and broadcaster.  What you heard on the radio and what you saw on the field was a real man.  A man that I admire and love."

Saints Sideline reporter Kristian Garic, who worked with Hokie during Saints games but also on "Fans and the Pro," also counted Hokie as a close friend. "I don’t say 'I love you' to many, but I love Hokie Gajan!   He had a profound impact on me as a person, man, and father.  I’ve always admired his toughness, and sense of humor.  If it was funny, he said it was funny, even if it was at his expense.  I’ve admired a few men and women in my life, but none on the level of Hokie Gajan.  He’s a dear friend, and a spectacular human." 

Robert Carroll, Saints Radio Broadcast Engineer and Executive Producer, remembers Hokie's first broadcast. “He was nervous about it, we worked on things together.  Afterwards, Henderson said, ‘I knew you could do it!’  From day one, as crippled as he might be with post-playing ailments, Hokie would help me break down all the equipment in the booth, a task that most able bodied individuals would have a hard time with, so that makes his selfless attitude all that more appreciable, and highlights the person that he was. He was always willing to help.  He was honest, genuine, sincere...he was a friend.”
WWL Radio Operations & Program Director Diane Newman said, "God put us here so we could become the best version of ourselves. Hokie was born that way. Authentic. Honest. Purely Hokie. Tougher than tough, yet innocent & tender...and funny, even in intensive care. That's why we all love him so much. He's what we all strive to be – true.  True in life. True as a player who left his guts on the field. Nothing but true love for Judy, his daughters, family & friends. And 100% true on the radio.  That’s why Saints and LSU fans have boundless love for Hokie."

After playing for LSU, the Saints drafted Hokie in the 1981 NFL Draft and he played in Black and Gold from 1982 to 1985.

Gajan led the NFL in rushing average in 1984 with six yards per carry. In his four years with the Saints, Hokie carried the ball 252 times for 1,358.  That's an average of 5.4 yards per carry.  He also caught 63 passes for 515 yards, an average of 8.2 yards per catch.  Hokie rushed for eleven touchdowns and caught two TD passes.  Hokie would go on to be a scout for the Saints before landing in the broadcast booth.  Gajan was the WWL Saints Color Analyst for 15 years. 

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