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

Monday, December 19, 2005

Committee to vote for return to La., could hinder relocation; Haslett, players acknowledge possibly leaving La.; Benson labeled 'Grinch'; More links NFL columnist Jay Glazer is reporting that the NFL committee of owners formed to monitor Tom Benson will have a conference call Tuesday and vote unanimously to keep the Saints in Louisiana and have them return to their Metairie practice facility this offseason.

Glazer writes that the committee's official recommendation could come very soon.

Glazer also notes that the league will seek to back-load the 2006 Saints schedule to maximize appearances in the Superdome, which is slated to be ready for NFL football by Nov. 1, 2006.

Considering that there are eight owners on the committee, and that relocation in the NFL requires 24 of 32 owners to vote in favor of such a move, it is highly unlikely that Benson would receive the necessary support to permanently move the Saints to San Antonio in 2006.

The members of the committee (officially labeled the "New Orleans Saints Advisory Committee") are Denver's Pat Bowlen, Kansas City's Lamar Hunt, New England's Robert Kraft, Philadelphia's Jeff Lurie, Chicago's Mike McCaskey, Carolina's Jerry Richardson, Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney and Jacksonville's Wayne Weaver.

It's a list of some of the heaviest hitters in NFL ownership. Without their support, Benson's hopes of relocation are slim to none.

Even if Benson swayed half of them, he'd still be left fighting for 20 other votes from the remaining 24 franchises. Presumably voting against such relocation would also be Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair. It's an uphill climb, to say the least.

Benson, for his part, is "compiling a portfolio of reports presenting him in a negative light or personally attacking him aired on or written in New Orleans media" to submit to the other 31 NFL owners, according to the great Third Battle of New Orleans site, which cites WDSU-TV in New Orleans for the report.

Not that Tommy Boy has given any reason to be portrayed in a negative spotlight.

Also, I wonder if he'll be compiling a list of negative press from across the country as well. There's more than enough to go around. It ain't just New Orleans that sees him as The Worst Owner In Professional Sports History. Go do a news search and see for yourself.

But back to the column...If this is the case, such news puts serious doubt on thoughts that the NFL could be engaging in a good-cop, bad-cop scenario whereby the league and Benson conspire to move the team out of New Orleans, with Benson being the fall guy.

So, the ultimate result would be litigation.

Benson v. Tagliabue - coming to Court TV this spring!

Several Saints players and coach Jim Haslett commented on the possibility that Sunday's loss to Carolina at Baton Rouge's Tiger Stadium could be the team's last appearance in Louisiana.

Haslett, according to the above-linked article, told the team Saturday night to give it their all because it could be the last time the Saints play in Louisiana.

After the game, according to the Times-Picayune, Haslett said, "I'm saying it's a possibility. Our players understand that and they understood that going into the game, who knows what's going to happen? And I feel bad because we wanted to put on a better performance. It's a shame we had to go out this way."

Defensive tackle Brian Young told the Times-Picayune, "I'm not from New Orleans, I've only been here for a year, but yeah, it does suck. If we're not back here next year, it does seem like we're trying to run out on them, but it's really not our call and I don't want anyone to think we're trying to run out and leave on them. Nobody's looking at it that way. Everyone is just trying to figure out where we are going to be and everyone just wants to be somewhere where we have the best chance of winning some games."

Defensive end Charles Grant offered the most optimistic perspective, saying, "If it was the last game in Louisiana then we love you fans. We hope ya'll always support us no matter where we go and just keep believing because if you believe, this team will be back here...Listen to me, I don't think this franchise will move. I think we'll be back. Believe it."

Grant was said to be tearful in this Gannett News Service article from the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.

Fred McAfee told Gannett News Service, "This is really tough. We talked about the importance of getting this win because it might be our last game here. If we do leave, it'll be a sad day. I just hope it doesn't end this way."

Fahkir Brown said, "This is our home state, our home fans and we feel bad we couldn't get a win for them. And the fact that there might not be any more football after this year makes it worse."

Added Fred Booker: "I hope not. It would be terrible, especially since this loss happened in Tiger Stadium where I played my college ball. To come here and not win one game; it hurts that this is what we left the fans with."

Wide receiver Joe Horn told the San Antonio Express-News, "I would love to come back, because the way we left was so hard for me. But I don't know what will happen. (Benson) has the right to do what he pleases."

And finally, offensive lineman Wayne Gandy told the Express-News, "You don't care where it is. We'd take a win in a parking lot somewhere."

If the Saints do move to San Antonio, Gandy can be promised that at least the team will practice in a parking lot somewhere.

Saints owner Tom Benson has been called a lot of things. With Christmas coming this weekend, Tommy Boy has now been labeled a Grinch.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune's Peter Finney writes, in a column entitled "Would Grinch dare to pilfer Saints?", Finney notes that a sign at Sunday's Saints-Panthers game proclaimed that Benson was the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Finney also wrote Benson is completely preoccupied with the pending legal battle against the NFL over where the Saints will play in 2006:
"My reading of Benson is, at the moment, he is so wound up in his war with the commissioner, that bringing in a new coach, which would mean a new staff and many new contracts, is on the back burner. There are reports Benson is considering going to court to make San Antonio the team's headquarters against the obvious wishes of Paul Tagliabue."
For Tommy Boy, being called a "Grinch" is a definite step up.

At least it's something the kids, too, can call Benson. It is Christmas, after all.

- Photos of signs from Sunday's Saints-Panthers game can be found here, courtesy of The Third Battle of New Orleans.

- The Charlotte Observer wrote the following after Sunday's Saints-Panthers game in Tiger Stadium:
"The NFL has a mess on its hands. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has said he wants the Saints to play in Louisiana next season. If some renovations can be made to the Superdome, and the Saints can play there late in the year, great. But playing other games in Baton Rouge, La., is a bad idea. The field was torn up long before Sunday's game, and the facilities aren't exactly major league. Saints owner Tom Benson wants to move the team permanently to San Antonio. That's not going to help the effort to rebuild the Gulf. But Benson owns the team and he's got a viable argument about the facilities in Baton Rouge and the fact the Saints don't draw there."

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