Beside his beloved wife, Gayle, Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints (NFL) and New Orleans Pelicans (NBA), passed away on Thursday March 15, 2018 at 90 years old. He had been hospitalized since February, battling flu-like symptoms. He had been struggling with health issues for a while, undergoing triple-bypass heart surgery in 2001 and two arthroscopic knee procedures in 2014.
He will be remembered by many in New Orleans as one of the key factors to transforming the Saint’s franchise into a winning dynasty. Becoming the owner of the Saints in 1985, the team was usually referred to as the ‘Aints’ because of never having a winning record. He turned that around within three years of being the owner by helping lead the team to the playoffs. As Roger Goodell said, “Tom Benson’s contributions to New Orleans and the National Football League were legendary. He purchased a team that had never had a winning season; by the third year of his ownership, the Saints were in the playoffs. Tom kept the Saints together through the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, and his decision to bring the team back to New Orleans gave the entire region hope and confidence that they would recover. The Saints rewarded their fans with tremendous football and a Super Bowl championship”
Above: Benson and his team celebrating after their Super Bowl Victory in 2010.
With the passing of Benson, his wife has now been approved to be the owner of both the Saints and the Pelicans.
Many, including head coach Sean Payton and Saints quarterback Drew Brees, posted on twitter about Tom Benson, honoring his dedication to the cherished franchise. Without Benson, the Saints would not be the franchise they are today. His decision to not stay defeated after the horrendous event of Hurricane Katrina shows the immaculate determination he had in keeping the franchise going. With all that being said, his wife, Gayle, has big shoes to fill in the upcoming football and basketball seasons.