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, December 16, 2005

Upshaw ESPN Radio transcript reveals his disgust with Benson

NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw commented on the Saints' current situation and their future on ESPN Radio's Game Night. A review of the audio revealed the following notable quotes, many of which show a disdain for Tom Benson:
"What I heard earlier was, no one cares about what’s going on with the Saints, and how can the NFL allow teams to be in San Antonio? You have to understand, the NFL, the NFLPA, I wish we did, we do not own the New Orleans Saints. The New Orleans Saints are owned by Tom Benson. It was his decision on where they went. It is his decision where they are right now. All we are trying to do is change this and put this in a better place for 2006 than it was in 2005."

"Guys are frustrated because they’re not getting the leadership from upstairs, and you know what that means. I don’t have to tell you what that means. It doesn’t get down."

"I told the players we are looking at 2006 as a starting point, and we’re going to work back. We want the players to play and practice in the vicinity or as close to where they’re going to play their games. We want them to live and practice there. And when we went to Metairie, I want to tell you, that facility is actually in better shape than it was when the Saints left it."

"I don’t think you can play all the games in New Orleans next year under the best of circumstances. The architectural report was released today. They are predicting, and hopefully they can stay with this schedule, that the Dome will open Nov. 1. If the Dome opens Nov. 1, that means that you could have at least four games in New Orleans in 2006. So you kind of work back from that, hoping that that date stays. That’s what I told the players. Obviously I’m trying to tell them the information as we are putting it together."

"We’re putting together a playing schedule. We want to get that out in the next few weeks or in the first of January. Paul Tagliabue will do that, and he is looking at all of the options. We are now very concerned about what we see in New Orleans, and Paul is also, and he’ll tell you this, he set up and has his own person now on the ground in New Orleans. We have an office there. We have Eddie Jones, a former general manager with the Dolphins who has agreed to come over and run our office. We have some marketing people that are going down to try and help sell suites, and to help sell tickets, and to do all of that, so that we are on the ground trying to do what needs to be done in New Orleans, but we do not own the team. It’s still owned by Tom Benson. And he makes the decisions."

"There are some things I can’t comment on, and I won’t do it on the air, but there are things that we have to just let happen. What we also have to let happen is the city and the state and the whole surrounding Gulf Coast...We don’t want to be in a position that we abandoned them in a time when they are doing everything that they can do to possibly recover. They look at the NFL as an icon, the Saints. They don’t care about the mayor’s family living in Houston, or the basketball team playing in OKC. What they care about is where the Saints are."

"At the end of the day, Paul Tagliabue does not own the Saints. It’s owned by Tom Benson."
After hearing this interview first-hand, I was left with the very distinct impression that Upshaw is completely disgusted with Tom Benson, and that he believes that the team would be in a far better situation if someone else owned the Saints. How many times did Upshaw note that Benson owned the Saints? If you listen carefully, he even laughed during one of those instances.

The next few weeks are going to be extremely interesting, but could become monumental if Tagliabue and Upshaw have similar thoughts about Benson, and the other NFL owners get the same feeling.


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