New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson joined a panel of guest speakers at the opening meeting of the Greater New Orleans Quarterback Club on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
New Orleans Saints Owner Gayle Benson spoke at the first meeting of the 85th year of the New Orleans Quarterback Club at The Cannery on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. Benson was joined by other several other prominent speakers including Willie Fritz, Tulane University football head coach, Verge Ausberry, executive deputy director of athletics and executive director of external relations of Louisiana State University, Kevin Dizer, the head football coach at St. Martin's Episcopal School, and J.T. Curtis, head football coach at John Curtis Christian School.
Benson started talking about how she felt "left out" seeing Tulane's football success last season as well as LSU's championships in baseball and women's basketball, but said the Saints and Pelicans are doing "everything we can" to create their own postseason success.
"I am truly excited about what I have witnessed from our teams to date and fully expect we will be back in the playoffs where we belong."
Curtis, a legendary high school coach with 615 wins, good for second most career wins by a high school football coach in the entire country and a 28-time state champion, is optimistic about the Saints season as well in part because of the depth the Saints have at quarterback.
"I think both of those quarterbacks (Derek Carr and Jameis Winston) can play and I think both of those quarterbacks are capable of winning."
Curtis said he thinks the Saints are in a "good place."
"We look forward to that playoff appearance," the record-setting coach said.
Benson used the opportunity to address two ways the team hopes to impact the future of football in Louisiana with, through its NFL Flag Football and the ongoing enhancements to the Caesars Superdome.
Benson said the goal of the youth flag football program is to broaden participation. Benson said the flag football program has been brought to 17 parishes and has 3,000 young people participating, calling it a "great sign for the future of our game."
As for the enhancements to the Caesars Superdome, Benson said the renovations are "transformational," citing the easier access to seats, wider concourses, additional rest rooms, better food, faster service, lighting and club rooms upgrades as the improvements they've been able to make.
"It is absolutely incredible to see how we have been able to build a best-in-class modern stadium within the shell of our iconic Superdome," Benson said.
Benson said the Caesars Superdome can serve as a testament to what can happen when people manage "finding common cause, listening to opposing views and compromising," citing the cooperation between the Saints and the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District in renovating the Caesars Superdome.
Benson said the lessons learned from football can be applied to all aspects of life and that it is what makes football so important.
"Working together in common purpose, sacrificing individual wants to achieve the group's goals and listening to each other are what football teams do at every level, every season," she said.
The Quarterback Club meets once a month at The Cannery and awards a Prep Player of the Week and the year-end award recipients. The club also awards a monthly Scholar-Athlete award with Ponchatoula's Grant Gill, named the winner for August.
Benson thanked everyone in attendance for "being part of our football family."
"The future of football is indeed bright in Louisiana," she said.