Walker: Saints fans can thank 3 Glenville High Tarblooders for some of season's success

Monday, 13 November 2017, 11:15:32 AM. Before Ted Ginn Jr., Marshon Lattimore and Justin Hardee ever wore the Saints' black and gold, they wore the black and red of Glenville High.

Before Ted Ginn Jr., Marshon Lattimore and Justin Hardee ever wore the Saints' black and gold, they wore the black and red of Glenville High.

The black represents the tar.

The red represents the blood.

Put those colors together and you get the Tarblooders, the unique nickname of the Cleveland high school that just keeps on churning NFL players off the assembly line.

Glenville has eight active players in the NFL, tied for second-most of any high school in the country, according to Pro-football-reference.com.

Saints fans owe Glenville High a thank-you letter for the three Tarblooders the team added to its roster this year. 

At least one of them will be on display almost every play when the Saints play on Sunday at Buffalo, just three hours away from the Tarblooders' Cleveland hometown.

You can look for Ginn Jr., the speedy NFL veteran receiver the Saints signed during the offseason, when the Saints have the ball.

On defense, there's Lattimore, the Saints' first-round draft pick who was named the league's Defensive rookie of the month for October. Heck, just eight games into his NFL career and Latimore already has folks wondering if he's the best cornerback in team history.

And then there's Hardee, the rookie special teams gem the Saints picked up as soon as the Houston Texans waived him in September.

Ginn Jr. and Hardee scored touchdowns last week in the Saints' victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"We would have been three for three if Marshon had scored," said Hardee.

You can see Hardee's eyes light up when he hears mention of the word Glenville, also the alma mater of comedian Steve Harvey and the co-creators of Superman. 

So what's in the water at Glenville High?

"I just think it's the mindset, and the kids buy into the work ethic and want to be great," said Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. "That's all it is. The kids who play here just keep working and try not to accept anything less than great."

It's what makes a Tarblooder a Tarblooder.

The school adopted the nickname in the 1940s. Legend has it that a Tarblooder was a person who installed the ties for railroads. Each tie was soaked in tar, and the workers worked so hard they were said to sweat "tar" and "blood." Another explanation for the school's nickname is that Glenville was so good that it would "whack the tar and blood" from its opponents.

The mascot is a cross between a robot and a tin man. That seems especially fitting for Lattimore, who doesn't look human the way he's shut down opposing receivers.

Lattimore offered a simple explanation for what makes players from his alma mater special.

"We are just real," Lattimore explained. "We come from a tough background, so we know how to get through certain situations and we know how to persevere through things. That's just what it is."

Ted Gin Jr., Glenville High Class of 2004, is in his 11th NFL season and is the elder statesman of the Saints' trio. He's the one that many younger Glenville players looked up to. Ginn once ran a snail-like 5.1 in the 40-yard dash but put in the work to become faster and has made his mark in the league because of his speed.

"I just think it's the culture we have up there right now," Ginn Jr. said. "It's a way of living. It's actually a lifestyle. It's what the kids see and what they want to do. With my Pops still being there and helping create that lifestyle for them ... it's nothing that is given to you. It's something that is earned."

Nobody knows that more than Hardee, who unlike his Tarblooders/Saints teammates, wasn't drafted. He played receiver in high school but got a chance with the Texans as a defensive back. With the Saints, he's making his mark on special teams.

"This is coach Ginn's dream, and I'm just glad to see it come through," Hardee said. "He pushed us to work hard and showed us how to work hard. So now it's a true blessing to be in the same locker room as family. And then for all three of us to be putting up numbers this year is crazy."

Hardee calls Ginn Jr. his big brother. Lattimore says the same thing.

"With all three of us, it just brings that brotherly atmosphere to the locker room," Lattimore said. "With all three of us balling the way we are, it's big. I know the people back home are loving it."

None more than Ginn Sr., whose Sundays are quite busy as he keeps track of his former players across the league. The secret, he said, is hard work and tough love.

"Everybody wants everything so quick these days," Ginn Sr. said. "But sometimes you have to chop wood with an axe. You can't get a chainsaw all the time. You'll appreciate that wood more when you put it on the fire, because you know how you worked to get it."

Ginn Sr., in his 41st season at Glenville and 20th as head coach, will be at New Era Field on Sunday watching his son and former players face the Bills.

Ginn Sr. will be the guy with his chest stuck out, beaming with pride to see his former players.

"No doubt," he said. "This is what I do for a living. I try to develop people and put them in position for life. Anytime you can get your kids to be productive, it's huge. It's amazing to some people, but for me it's what I expect. When you put in the hard work, you should expect greatness."

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