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, March 20, 2006

Tags steps down, Benson responds, what's next?; Kudos to Brees for T-P ad

As expected, highly respected NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced today that he is retiring from the position, effective at the end of July.

Tagliabue, who served as commissioner for over 16 years, will remain on board with the league through May 2008 in an advisory role for his successor.

Saints owner Tom Benson released a statement shortly after the announcement, which reads as follows:
"Paul and I have worked for many years on many critical issues that have faced our league and he has been a tremendous asset to our league and the direction we have taken. We have experienced very positive growth in the area of revenue sharing and broadcast contracts, we have secured long-term labor peace and have also even encountered some of the worst of times following 9/11, but through it all Paul has been a leader, a friend and a voice that many others within our league and other leagues have followed."
Interestingly, there is no mention of Hurricane Katrina in Benson's statement. But I find little to fault in that. Perhaps "the worst of times following 9/11" is meant to encompass many things, including the war in Iraq as well as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In any event, Tagliabue has been by far the most ardent supporter of the Saints' remaining in New Orleans post-Katrina. In fact, without Tagliabue's work, the Saints would be in San Antonio at this very moment.

It is of vital importance to restate that though Tagliabue is retiring from his role as commish, he will stay on board as an advisor through May 2008. The Saints' current agreement with Louisiana can be revoked by Benson after the upcoming season. If Tagliabue's words of a long-term commitment to New Orleans are to be seen to fruition, it is key that he remains in a position of influence through 2007.

Granted, the level of influence he will possess is unknown. However, even given that uncertainty, I cannot imagine an owner trying to bully through something as controversial (they always are) as a franchise relocation in the new NFL commissioner's inaugural year.

(Of course, I didn't think Benson would try to sweet-talk San Antonio as a permanent stay for the Saints in the weeks following Katrina. Stranger things have happened...)


Many kudos to new Saints QB Drew Brees for taking out a half-page advertisement in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, thanking the city for providing him and his wife Brittany with such a stirring welcome.

The ad, attached on the right (courtesy of's message boards), has a headline in bold that says, "We're proud to call New Orleans home" and reads as follows:
"My wife Brittany and I would like to thank the New Orleans Saints and Saints fans across the entire community for their support and well-wishes during our visit. New Orleans is now our home and everyone has welcomed us with open arms. We will work hard with the entire Saints organization to give this city the winner it deserves. Thanks again and Go Saints!"
Sports Illustrated's Peter King even referenced the message board site (though not expressly by name) in relaying Saints' fans admiration and gratitude for Brees. In King's Monday Morning Quarterback, in a section entitled "Nice Guy Gesture of the Week," King reports that some posters were so grateful for the ad, they were trying to collect money to send to Brees to cover the ad's costs.

Fans like these don't just deserve a winner; they deserve a firm commitment from Benson (and the next NFL commish) to keep the team where it belongs.


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