New Orleans Saints Owner/President Tom Benson and former running back Deuce McAllister have been elected to the class of 2012 for the Saints Hall of Fame by the Media Selection Committee of the hall. The induction will take place on Sept. 21, 2012 as part of Saints Hall of Fame All Saints Weekend. Benson and McAllister will become the 40th and 41st inductees into the Saints Hall of Fame.
A native New Orleanian, Benson stepped up to help save the New Orleans Saints franchise in 1985, purchasing the team from John Mecom. Within two years, Benson fielded the first winning team and first playoff appearance by the Saints in franchise history (1987). His teams have made the playoffs nine times. Under Benson, the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, 2010, defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Benson’s 2006 New Orleans Saints reached the NFC championship game.
During Benson’s tenure, New Orleans has hosted four Super Bowls and will host a fifth (Super Bowl XLVII) on February 3, 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Benson has been one of the NFL’s most important and influential owners, serving three stints as Chairman of the league Finance Committee.
Benson’s community and charitable involvement is substantial and he has invested in the city through the purchase of Dominion Tower, the New Orleans Hornets, and WVUE-TV. Mr. Benson and his family have helped raise over $2.5 million for community causes through the Saints Hurricane Katrina and Gulf Coast Renewal funds.
McAllister played for the Saints for eight seasons from 2001-2008. A two-time Pro Bowler (2002 and 2003), McAllister was a first-round draft pick of the Saints in the 2001 NFL Draft (23rd overall).
McAllister retired as the leading rusher in the history of the franchise, amassing 6,096 yards on 1,429 carries (4.3 avg.). He is the all-time leader in touchdowns with 55 and rushing touchdowns with 55. In addition, McAllister ranks fifth all-time in scoring with 330 points and ranks tenth in receptions with 234. He led the Saints in rushing in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. McAllister was named first-team All-NFC by Pro Football Weekly in both 2002 and 2003.
Jim Henderson has been chosen as the recipient of the Joe Gemelli Fleur de lis award for his contributions to the New Orleans Saints.
The award is presented annually to a person who has supported the New Orleans Saints organization and contributed to the betterment of the franchise over a significant period of time.
A native of Rochester, New York, Henderson came to New Orleans in 1978 as the Sports Director of WWL-TV and worked at WWL for nearly 34 years, retiring on January 31, 2012.
Henderson began working on New Orleans Saints radio broadcasts on WWL, 870 AM and the New Orleans Saints Radio Network in 1982 as a color analyst. He became the play-by-play announcer in 1986 and has worked in that capacity for nearly all of the past 21 seasons. Henderson continues his duties today as the radio “Voice of the New Orleans Saints.” Henderson also did pre-season play-by-play for Saints telecasts on WWL-TV for several years.
Henderson will become the 23rd Gemelli award winner. The award is named in honor of the late Joe Gemelli, who was widely regarded as the biggest Saints fan. Gemelli founded the Touchdown Club, which continues to support the New Orleans Saints. Gemelli was the first president of the Saints Hall of Fame.
In addition, the Saints Hall of Fame has voted to honor former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason, creating the establishment of a legacy gallery at the museum in the name of Gleason. A defensive back and special teams standout from 2000-2006, Gleason is the first former New Orleans Saints player to be honored outside of Hall of Fame inductees. Gleason is being honored as a special player who made special contributions to both the franchise and the New Orleans community as a whole.
The 501(c)(3) Saints Hall of Fame is a non-profit museum, located at Gate B on the Plaza Level of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, is open to the public by appointment and on certain Saturdays each year at a cost of $7 per person or $5 per group of 10 or more.