How Saints Owner Tom Benson Turned The Bayou Into Who Dat Nation

    That classic scene of Saints owner Thomas Milton Benton Jr. dancing on the field, pointing his fingers in the air and wailing his arms and then hitting the shimmy with the umbrella  — straight Bayou style — is forever etched in the memories of football fans. 

    Tom Benson on Saints making it to Super Bowl 2010

    Tom Benson has passed away at the age of 90.

    Very rarely in the history of pro sports has there been an owner with such enthusiasm and emotional connection to his team, his city, and his players. Few owners embodied the spirit of the people like Benson who passed away peacefully Thursday, March 15 at Ochsner Medical Center at the age of 90 with his wife Gayle Marie Benson at his side. 

    Benson was hospitalized with the flu on Feb. 16 and he leaves an indelible, rich, positive, influential and uplifting legacy behind as owner of the NFLs New Orleans Saints and The New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA. 

    Benson is an American success story.  In 1972,  he entered the banking business and eventually took his banking network public as Benson Financial World.

    By 1985 Benson was in the financial position to purchase the New Orleans Saints after learning that the NFL franchise was on the verge of being sold to parties interested in relocating the team. In 1987, the team posted its first winning season and advanced to the playoffs for the first time. It was the first time Benson put his untempered love for victory and football on display. 

    Tom Benson goes nuts over New Orleans Saints first playoff berth

    Uploaded by cowtzu on 2015-07-26.

    Some would describe him as confident and at times combative, but he cared. Through his sports teams, business interests and the Gayle and Tom Benson Foundation, Mr. Benson was dedicated to assisting a myriad of charitable, faith-based and educational causes in the New Orleans and South Texas communities. 

    The Saints 2009 Super Bowl victory helped the healing process of a state torn to shreds by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. 

    Super Bowl to Transform New Orleans

    Rita Benson LeBlanc, part owner and executive vice president of the New Orleans Saints, spoke to Maggie Rodriguez about the Super Bowl XLIV and how it will help transform the city.

    Under Mr. Bensons direction, his businesses and sports teams annually have put millions of dollars back into the community in financial support, donations, charitable appearances and the donations of goods and services. Over 50 deserving charitable organizations, foundations and agencies have annually received financial support from Mr. Benson.

    Via nola.com, Whatever you think of Benson, there’s no denying his place in Louisiana sports history.

    He wasn’t the father of professional sports in New Orleans. But he most certainly was their good shepherd.

    Second-line in honor of Tom Benson, New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner who died March 15

    Following the announcement of Tom Benson’s death on Thursday, March 15, 2018, New Orleanians took to the streets to second-line in Tom Benson’s memory.

    Without Benson, the Saints and Pelicans might not still be in New Orleans. But no one knows for sure.

    Through his steady leadership and relentless competitiveness, he raised the standard for professional sports in this city.

    The Saints, once a perennial laughingstock under owner John Mecom Jr., became one of the most successful teams in the NFL during Benson’s ownership tenure.  

    The Pelicans also were floundering when Benson bought the team in 2012. Today, they are again a playoff contender and considered appointment viewing, thanks to the presence of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, two of the NBA’s best big men.

    Benson buys Hornets

    Tom Benson talks about buying the New Orleans Hornets.

     During Benson’s ownership tenure, the Saints have earned 11 playoff berths, six division titles and captured a Super Bowl, building a foundation for continued success, on and off the field. Benson was considered one of the leaders among owners in the NFL and served as chairman of the league Finance Committee for three separate stints. He was also able to secure the Super Bowl for New Orleans on five different occasions. 

    The hometown kid who ascended from his modest 7th Ward roots to become the wealthiest man in Louisiana.

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.