Happy 90th Birthday, Tom Benson!
Birthdays that end in “Zero” are widely regarded as landmarks. Saints & Pelicans owner Tom Benson has a big one today. He’s 90 years old. Mr. Benson was born in New Orleans July 12th, 1927. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy, and holds a degree from Loyola University. Mr. Benson made his fortune selling cars. He’s owned multiple dealerships in New Orleans, and San Antonio. In 1985, John Mecom was about to sell the Saints to buyers wanting to move it to Jacksonville. Mr. Benson assembled a group of investors, and purchased the team. They had their first winning season two years later (1987), and made playoffs. Mr. Benson was hailed as a hero. He would also find himself cast as a villain. He threatened to move the team in 2001 after the state refused to build a new stadium. I had the occasion to spend a few minutes alone with then governor Mike Foster, saying to him, “Don’t take any shit from Tom Benson.” The governor chuckled, “I’m not.” There was more controversy after Hurricane Katrina. It was reported he intended to move the team to San Antonio. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue intervened. Four years later, the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV. Hopefully, they’ll win another while the boss man is still kicking. Happy birthday, Mr. Benson!