Wednesday, November 16, 2005

N.F.L. Committee Meets to Discuss Saints' Future

The last time Tom Benson, the New Orleans Saints' owner, was seen in public, he was shoving a television cameraman after fans heaped verbal abuse on him at a Saints game at Louisiana State.

Benson's image, already battered by intimations that he wanted to move his team to San Antonio in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, took another hit when The Times-Picayune reported that Benson had sent Commissioner Paul Tagliabue an e-mail message saying he would not return to Baton Rouge.
Benson was in a better mood as he left a meeting Tuesday. He declared that his team was not for sale, even though two groups of potential investors have already said they would be interested in buying the team and keeping it in Louisiana. And, although Benson was thought to want to leave New Orleans well before the hurricane hit, he said that "hopefully the day will come when we'll have a lot of football in New Orleans." {a lot of football in New Orleans?? What is he saying?]

Benson said of his fellow owners: "They understand how hard we are working to try to come back to New Orleans. We've got the whole league behind us." [This is a frightening comment!]

The New Orleans Advisory Committee, a group of eight owners hand-picked by Tagliabue to deal with the future of the Saints, met for the first time Tuesday. The league seems a long way from making a final decision about where the team will ultimately land, be it in a rebuilt New Orleans, San Antonio or Los Angeles, where the league is working on lease agreements for two sites to pave the way for a team to be placed there.

"We need to see what's going to happen in New Orleans and give them a chance to recover," said the Houston Texans' owner, Robert McNair. "You don't kick people when they're down."

Tagliabue and Dan Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers' chairman, said Benson had been unfairly portrayed as the bad guy in characterizations of the strife of the Saints.

"Tom Benson is one of the finest, caring people I know in the National Football League," Rooney said. "He's been painted into an evil-looking person, which is definitely not the case."

Have we been sacked? How in the world can anyone with any conscience say such sweet things about Benson? Well folks, its just not looking that good for the Saints to be sold to another Louisiana group or even remain in New Orleans!

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