NFL owners meeting called off; L.A. more considerate than S.A.; NFL sends Coliseum draft lease; USC's Carroll rumored to help bring Saints to L.A.
That adds an interesting wrench to things, since there were going to be talks about the status and future of the Saints franchise. But it would be absolutely improper to push forward with such a meeting in the wake of Mara's passing.
In any event, officials from the city of Los Angeles were scheduled to be present at the meeting, to update league owners on the progress of the city for purposes of serving as host for an NFL team.
Those officials indicated in the story that the NFL is considering moving the Saints to L.A., but the city is not openly soliciting the team due to the sensitivity of the Katrina aftermath.
In fact, Los Angeles officials are actively trying to downplay any intentions of landing the Saints.
Pat Lynch, general manager of the L.A. Coliseum, is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, "We know people in New Orleans have been reading about the 'threat' of Los Angeles for a long time. We don't think there's a time or a place for us to ever bring up this subject." And the president of the Coliseum Commission, Bill Chadwick, told the Times, "It clearly would be bad form for the commission to reach out to New Orleans — or to anyone in distress."
Imagine that - a city being considerate of another in need. Satantonio, you listening?
Perhaps more notable, the Times reported in the same article that the NFL has sent the Coliseum a draft lease.
And, a $10.7 million traffic project to limit congestion around the Coliseum, is set to be completed by July.
And, the Times confirmed that three members of the NFL committee watching Tom Benson "also serve on another NFL committee assessing prospects in Los Angeles, a smaller group that includes only five owners and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue."
In the meantime, foxsports.com reports that rumors are swirling about USC head coach Pete Carroll taking over the Saints next year in San Antonio, in order to help sell the team to Los Angeles fans in a subsequent move there in 2007.
On the Louisiana front, governor Kathleen Blanco is arranging to meet with Tom Benson and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue this weekend to promote her state and help broker a deal to keep the Saints in New Orleans.
We'll see how that goes.
From the op-ed pages, columnists continue to blast Benson. This column, from chicagosportsreview.com, claims Benson is the world's meanest man. Check out this rant:
"Part of the team’s lease with New Orleans requires Benson to pay an $81 million fine if he moves the team before the contract expires. But, thanks to Katrina (hooray for Katrina!), his lawyers are expected to argue the stadium is unusable and therefore keeps them from having to fork over the dough. You can almost picture Benson standing next to Satan during the storm, waving his stupid umbrella and laughing maniacally."The rest is a good read as well.
In other news, Hornets owner George Shinn is acting as the anti-Benson. Shinn was praised by New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin at last nights Hornets-Heat game in Baton Rouge, as Shinn has vowed to return the team to the Crescent City. Nagin said, "[T]he fans and the citizens really appreciated him doing that. And in addition to that, he came out tonight and said he's donating a million dollars to building homes for the citizens of New Orleans. That's the kind of heart that Mr. Shinn has."
Taking notes, Tommy Boy?
And, on a final note, a prominent USA Today sports columnist is calling on Tagliabue to swoop in and save the day for New Orleans. Ian O'Conner penned this outstanding piece, "Tagliabue must keep Saints in New Orleans," recently. O'Conner believes that Tagliabue's legacy rests with the final destination of the Saints. It's a definite must-read.