More Good News for the Future of the Saints
Since I am the resident Saints commentator, it is time for me to address the lastest round of positive comments about the Saints in New Orleans:
1. He added that the NFL was even beginning discussions with local leaders about when New Orleans might be ready to host its next Super Bowl, which would be the city's 10th.
COMMENTS: Good. Let's see what happens though. Don't forget that the next 5 or so Super Bowls are tied up, so we won't be seeing one until 11 or 12 or so, unless they change the rotation. There are also no comments on whether the Super Bowl will be tied to a new stadium. If many people consider the Superdome obsolete now, where will it stand in 5 years?
2a. "Mr. Benson already has committed beyond 2006. He's made it clear this is not just for one season. It's a multiyear effort," Tagliabue said as Benson stood alongside him. "The commitment is unequivocal."
2b. Benson said he is committed to New Orleans "forever, as long as the community commits to me."
COMMENTS: This sounds like typical Benson doubletalk. He's committed long term, but then he throws the qualifier out. Does this mean that he'll give the city a mulligan if it's not completely ready or if the team itself is substandard (as many people expect) in 2006 and perhaps 2007? Or does he just pack up and go, citing poor support and low attendance?
3. "I've lived here a long time," Benson continued, alluding to threats of the Saints moving out of Louisiana before he bought the team two decades ago. "When I bought the club ... it wasn't that I was in love with football. It was the fact that I was in love with New Orleans, Louisiana. [That was] the reason I bought this team in 1985 and that's true today."
COMMENTS: See my other comments on the webpage about how Benson apparently loves San Antonio at least as much as he loves New Orleans.
4a. Meanwhile, the NFL is working on plans to further promote the league's involvement in the rebuilding of New Orleans next season. Ideas include a kickoff concert in New Orleans leading up to the prime-time season-opening game at the home of this season's eventual Super Bowl champion. The NFL is also looking at a New Year's Eve Saints home game on the last weekend of the regular season.
4b. Benson said he is urging Tagliabue to work on putting as many Saints home games as possible, including preseason games, on national television as a way to promote the progress of the south Louisiana's recovery.
COMMENTS: We'll probably get 2 or 3 national broadcast games out of this. Bottom line, the Saints do not draw national ratings. ESPN and NBC will demand that teams like the Cowboys, Steelers, and the New York teams get more prime-time games. And if the Saints are as bad as they were last year, I don't blame them. But with that being said, I appreciate the gesture very much. There were plenty of times when the Saints had playoff-caliber teams, and Monday Night Football still blew them off.
Overall, the developments are very positive in my opinion. The league appears to be stepping up with concrete plans, instead of just saying "I promise we'll help in some way." Maybe between now and next season, Benson will do the right thing and hire a P.R. guy who will tell him to either shut the hell up or show more compassion. I don't think I've ever seen a bigger public relations nightmare than this guy. All the guy has to do is either shut up or stick to messages prepared for him by somebody who understands publicity. Maybe his new team leader (his granddaughter) will ask him to do that.