Mr. Benson

The players in this league just aren’t the only ones that can make an impact on a franchise or a city. I truly feel that owners are just as influential in their own way. We’ve seen some legendary owners over the years in the National Football League. Jerry Jones is one and you see the impact he’s had on the entire league and how the Cowboys became one of the best teams in the league after purchasing the team. We can’t forget Robert Kraft and what he’s done with the New England Patriots. There’s the late Dan Rooney who helped turn the Pittsburgh Steelers into one of the best franchises in the league and then, there’s Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints. On March 15th, he passed away at the age of 90 from complications of the flu.

Mr. Benson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on July 12th, 1927 to Thomas Benson, Sr and Carmen Benson. He graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in accounting and he also served in the U.S. Navy in 1948. He became a successful businessman after becoming the full-time owner of Tom Benson Chevrolet in 1962. In 1985, he purchased the New Orleans Saints after hearing the team was for sale and others who were interested in buying the team were possibly thinking about moving the Saints to Jacksonville. After purchasing the franchise, he became one of the more colorful and popular owners in the league. His popularity did begin to decline after trying to have a new stadium built in Louisiana to replace the aging Superdome. In 2005, his popularity dipped even lower after it appeared that he was looking to move the Saints to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city of New Orleans. Things started to look up for the Saints in 2006 during the off-season. A Bill Parcells disciple by the name of Sean Payton was hired to be the team’s new head coach and they were able to land the top free agent in that class in Drew Brees after the Chargers decided to go in the opposite direction and I think that panned out very well. When Mr. Benson announced that the Saints would return back to New Orleans, the team improved immensely and were considered a powerhouse in the NFC. Everything all came together for them when they shocked the world and upset the Indianapolis Colts to win Super Bowl 44.

Not only was he the owner of the Saints, he also purchased the-then New Orleans Hornets in 2012 for $338 Million and after the purchase, they became the New Orleans Pelicans, named after the state bird of Louisiana. In November 2014, the stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame was named the “Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium” in honor of a $10 million donation that he made toward its refurbishment. My thoughts and prayers are with the Benson family, those who worked with him and both franchises that he owned.