If you missed the early fireworks which fell to the wayside with all of the other big stories today (Panthers losing, Sean Payton’s job, and Drew Brees’ contract), Jeff Duncan wrote an open letter to Tom Benson asking him to sell the Saints and Pelicans for the sake of New Orleans.  This was despite the fact Mr. Benson had already informed Duncan he had not intention to sell.

The fabulous fighting Mr. Benson

The fabulous fighting Mr. Tom Benson

Not only is there no offer on the table from another billionaire but also any imaginary talks would have put Mr. Benson is a poor posture to negotiate.  In the opinion of WDW, it is extremely irresponsible for the Times Picayune to allow Duncan to push his point in an open letter when Mr. Benson had already stated he would not sell.  It is almost as if the TP wanted to make sure everyone knew of Duncan’s brilliant (not) idea.  Large, successful organizations are built with a view toward succession of the organization under every contingency.  Duncan is floating an idea like a middle manager who has never ascended to the “C” suite.

Nick Underhill of the Advocate caught up to Mr. Benson after the game today and walked away with these quotes:

Statement from Benson: ‘I am not selling either team’

I rarely respond to preposterous media reports as I understand them to be part of our business. Many are rarely based in fact, as is the case with the open letter to me from The Times-Picayune imploring me to sell our teams for the benefit of the city. The letter is fraught with inaccuracies especially as they pertain to our partnership with the State of Louisiana or the structure of our organization. To be clear, the State of Louisiana has not paid the New Orleans Saints a nickel in inducement payments since 2009 and never since I purchased the then Hornets in 2012. In fact, I have most recently committed $25 million in upgrades towards the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and millions more towards the Smoothie King Center.

However, I respond tonight only for the benefit of our fans. We have the most passionate fans in both the NFL and NBA, and they deserve better than to read this scurrilous story, which the editors of the TP decided to blast on the front page of Sunday’s edition.

I will repeat today as I did yesterday to the reporter. I am not selling either team. That is not in my makeup. I am not retiring or stepping aside, while I do appreciate all of the sincere concern for my health. The legacy of both these teams are still yet to be written and my legacy can be discussed when I am long gone, which by the way is not that important to me right now. What is important to me is getting both our teams back to winning and challenging for championships. That is what our fans want most, and no one is more keenly aware of the urgency of that objective than me. We have had tremendous success both on and off the field and remain model franchises in both leagues, something I am very proud of. Another important part of our legacy is continuing to rebuild our city, our hospitals and our schools to make them leading institutions in this country. My wife Gayle and I do not take this for granted and cherish our ability to participate and contribute annually.

But what strikes me the most is the pure irony of The Times-Picayune imploring me to sell for the benefit of the city. I recall in May 2012, reaching out to the Newhouse family imploring them to sell to me or other local ownership as they threatened to become and then became a part-time newspaper. Since then the newspaper has done nothing but layoff staff and move operations out of town.

I take great pride in promoting New Orleans as a big league city – securing a record number of Super Bowls, getting naming rights deals for both the Superdome and Arena, and infusing millions of tax revenue into our state’s general fund. This is on top of the large investments I have made in this city, and I will soon announce more major projects that will showcase our great city.

Our fans must know that both of our organizations are tasked with seeing that we field a winning product both on and off the field. Something that they will be proud of. Despite the misstatements in today’s article, I have always been and continue to be in complete control of our teams, and that is not in dispute. Furthermore, my plan to transfer complete control to Gayle is unassailable and designed to provide the long term stability and resources that all franchises need to produce consistently winning teams. It is our determined objective that our fans, our City, our State, and our entire region will continue to join in and benefit from our success. Selling these teams is not part of a solution, rather it is detrimental to those goals.

I hope everyone enjoyed our win today over the Jacksonville Jaguars and last night when our Pelicans beat the Houston Rockets.

Gayle and I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year.

Tom Benson