Tom Benson Dead: New Orleans Saints Owner Dies after Flu

Tom Benson Dead: New Orleans Saints Owner Dies after Flu”

Mr. Benson's second home, San Antonio, hosted the Saints' home games in its Alamodome. In 1987, the team posted its first winning season and advanced to the playoffs for the first time.

New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson died Thursday at the age of 90, the Saints announced.

Mr. and Mrs. Benson displayed their commitment to the health and wellness of the local community with a $5 million Foundation gift to establish the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center on the main campus of Ochsner Medical Center.

"My prayers are with Tom's wife, Gayle, and their family during this hard time".

It was a messy family squabble, with Benson and his wife Gayle on one side, and Benson's daughter Rene' and her daughter Rita on the other.

The Saints never had a winning season before Benson took over. Of course, they got better and won the Super Bowl in 2010. Known among his peers in the NFL as an important leader, Benson's input on the league level was instrumental, serving as chairman of the league Finance Committee for three separate stints. Though Benson later insisted the reports of him considering relocation were blown out of proportion, he allowed that uncertainty to fester during an emotional time for the community.

Benson started out as a bookkeeper at a Chevy dealership in New Orleans - but went on to become a dealership owner and expanded the business into a billion-dollar empire.

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue nixed that, and the Saints returned after the 2005 season.

The Saints' infamous "bounty scandal" also took place under Benson's watch, with Payton, Loomis and others receiving unprecedented suspensions for allegedly overseeing a pay-for-injury scheme.

Benson later purchased the Big Easy's National Basketball Association franchise in 2012 and rebranded them as the Pelicans following 11 years as the Hornets. He then renamed the team to Pelicans, after the state bird and former New Orleans minor league baseball team.

Benson purchased the Saints in 1985, and the franchise reached new heights under his guidance. However, they are now thriving as a 5th-place seed in the Western Conference, led by one of the game's top players in Anthony Davis.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August of 2005, Benson wanted to keep the team in San Antonio, where it had temporarily relocated. Through that foundation, they have invested heavily in philanthropic endeavors. And they helped bring the Super Bowl back to New Orleans in 2013, an economic windfall for the city.

Benson has two stadiums named after him from donations - Tulane University's Tom Benson Field at Yulman Stadium and Canton, Ohio's Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in the shadows of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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