saints (n.) - NFL franchise presently based in New Orleans; boondoggle (n.) - an unnecessary or wasteful project or activity; saintsdoggle (n.) - the Saints' potential relocation situation in New Orleans, and the resulting boondoggle by Louisiana to keep the team from leaving

Friday, October 28, 2005

More Benson criticism voiced; S.A. paper's column ridicules New Orleans

The New York Times today focused attention on Saints fans' opinions of Tom Benson, featuring a photo (see below) by Jim Wilson of one of the "billboards of appreciation" for Benson from New Orleans.

The article started with one fan stating he will wear a paper bag to Sunday's Saints-Dolphins game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The same fan then said he's pass the bag around to other fans to start a collection for Benson.

Also in the article was a strong quote on Benson from Gary R. Roberts, Tulane Law School's sports law program director:
"I don't know whether he is a bastard or a public-relations disaster."
Not exactly the best two options to have. In either case, it's clear he's mishandled the Saints' situation.

In spite of that, some are calling on those who have criticized Benson to back off. The Shreveport Times' Tim Brando sounded off on that sentiment in "Be careful when demonizing Saints' owner Benson."

(I'm guessing Roberts missed Brando's column.)

Brando's opinion is that "We all have to be measured in our criticism of Benson, not because he might call you out in his next open letter advertisement. But because demonizing him doesn't help us in either keeping this team or getting another one once he leaves."

Marc Ganis, president of a prominent sports consulting firm, agrees, according to the above New York Times article. Ganis was quoted as saying, "If you criticize the man enough, as has been going on with Mayor Nagin, you'll get a situation where, if the Saints come back, who's going to buy tickets? (Benson) has been bashed to the point where it may make the environment an impossible place to operate."

If that's the only reason to temper criticism of Benson (and it is), then shame on Benson. Tommy Boy needs to do something radical to change how he's perceived.

Perhaps Paul Tagliabue, or that NFL committee keeping tabs on him, will show him the light.

We'll see how things go this weekend.

One of the San Antonio Express-News features, the "Water Cooler on Wheels," ripped New Orleans in its most recent edition.

The article makes light of the 17th Street Levee (which actually was a flood wall) breach, comparing the disaster that destroyed New Orleans' Lakeview community with San Antonio's public debate on the Saints' situation. The quote:
"That drip, drip, drip you hear is the sound of the leaky logic that seems to have swamped the public debate on the Saints' situation. The discourse, which entered a new phase Thursday with Mayor Phil Hardberger's come-what-may rejection of a new stadium, has sprung so may leaks of late that it makes the 17th Street Levee look watertight."
For those who lost everything in that flood wall breach, or those who personally know people who did, that misguided attempt at humor reeks of classlessness.

And some in that city wonder why it is receiving such flak.

There's more.

The "Water Cooler" goes on:
"The entire state of Louisiana, it seems, maintains that keeping the Saints in New Orleans is absolutely critical to rebuilding the city. What — does Deuce McAllister do dry wall on the side?"
Again, great topic for a joke. What, were the Terri Schiavo puns all used up? How about a nice friendly laugher about starving children? Or a quip about Parkinson's disease?

Then, the "Water Cooler" jokingly compares a return of the Saints to New Orleans as something that also should be extended to other disaster areas around the world - Islamabad, Jakarta, and Cancun.

The article then reveals that it views New Orleans' "circumstances" as an opportunity to swoop in and make a franchise grab:
"Early chatter that the city has the chance to prove itself worthy of another NFL team — if the Saints slip through our fingers — no longer holds water. If the current circumstances don't lead to the Saints landing here, no set of circumstances will."
That's a shame. Instead of supporting a city at its most vulnerable point, it's openly viewed as an opportunity to sow its weakness and reap the benefits.

But I digress.

I'll say this: I hope San Antonio never suffers the type of "circumstances" New Orleans has during Katrina. And I hope it never has to be in such a situation and then have to deal with another "compassionate" city openly campaigning for the Spurs, and then be ridiculed for wanting to keep them in San Antonio.

Will the Saints end up returning to New Orleans?

At this point, the signs seem to point to "no."

However, to not only discourage the city from wanting them to, but disparage it at the same time...

You get the point.


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