On October 13, 2008, New Orleans VooDoo owner Tom Benson (above) announced that the VooDoo would no longer be continuing operations in New Orleans. Benson cited circumstances affecting the league and team as reasons for the folding of the team. Sure, the AFL has been having financial trouble, they even cancelled this year's season to save on money.
Maybe that was the reason for the team shutdown or maybe Tom Benson is pulling up some of the roots that are holding him in New Orleans so that if the chance arises, he can pick up his team and run for Los Angeles or San Antonio.
Los Angeles Saints or San Antonio Saints has a certain ring to it although they may change the name to Los Angeles Rattlesnakes or San Antonio Dirt Devils or something.
Can you imagine Drew Brees dropping back to pass as a Los Angeles Rattlesnake? They'll be no more gumbo eatin' tailgaters, instead they'll eat organic mushroom burgers or something else that doesn't deserve to be called food.
Now you must understand, I'm just assuming all of this and none of it should be taken down as cold, hard fact but doesn't it seem strange that when the state of Louisiana is trying to figure out if the Saints are worth keeping around that Benson up and kills the VooDoo. You may argue that times in the AFL are hard, but I don't see the San Jose Sabercats or Philadelphia Soul shutting down.
What in the world is going on here?
Now, its no secret that Tom Benson has one foot in the Crescent City and one foot somewhere else, now where its at, your guess is as good as mine. Never mind that he was born and raised in New Orleans, the Saints are a business and New Orleans just isn't that good of a market for such a business.
Now what's ironic is that Benson bought the team from former owner John Mecom in 1985 after learning from former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards that the team was on the verge of being sold to parties interested in moving the team to Jacksonville, Florida. This was, of course, before the time of the Jaguars.
So essentially, Benson bought the team to keep it in the Big Easy.
Now, Los Angeles has been looking for an NFL franchise to brighten their worlds since the Rams left their fair city and headed for St. Louis, Missouri. That was the second team that the city had lost as the Raiders had formerly called it home before making their way to Oakland.
San Antonio has been called a future destination for the Saints because the Saints "became" the San Antonio Saints for a short time after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. During that terrible time, the Saints found a home in San Antonio and mayor Phil Hardberger stated that Benson had agreed to schedule negotiations for permanent relocation once the 2005 season was over.
New Orleans may have been picking up the pieces from a hurricane but they weren't dead. Saints fans as well as state and public officials immediately began begging Benson to keep the Saints right where they belonged, on the bayou.
New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin sharply criticized Benson saying, "For them to be openly talking to other cities about moving is disrespectful to the citizens of New Orleans, disrespectful to the Saints fans who have hung in with this franchise through 30-something years under very trying times."
In the midst of all of this, several groups approached Benson and offered the buy the team from him, one of these groups being led by former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Louisiana native Terry Bradshaw but Benson refused and on December 17th, ESPN reported that Benson told the players on the team that he planned to keep the team in San Antonio for the 2006 season and possibly beyond.
Benson did return to New Orleans for the 2006 season and the Saints followed him home. Head coach Jim Haslett was fired for the poor performance of the team in 2005 (their final record was 3-13) and Dallas Cowboys assistant Sean Payton was soon hired as the team's new head coach.
The team played well in 2006, finishing with a record of 10-6 and going all the way to the NFC Championship Game before losing to the Bears in Chicago. In 2007, they didn't do so well as they missed the playoffs and racked up seven wins and nine losses. In 2008, they split it down the middle, losing eight and winning eight and once again missing the playoffs and that brings us to now.
As I said, Louisiana state officials are trying to figure out if they should pay the Saints the money that they owe them, to keep the team in New Orleans. Should they decide that the team isn't worth it, Tom Benson can lead the team right out of the Big Easy and to anywhere that will take them.
Will he do that? I guess that we can only wait and see, as for now, I just hope that we can make the playoffs and possibly make a Super Bowl run this year.
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