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Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise Lauds Saints Before Congressional Hearing

    <span style="">                 <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Below are portions of entire statements from Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Committee on Energy and Commerce</span>                
            <span style="">November 3, 2009</span>                

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Sports are part of our culture and part of the very social fabric of our nation. Unfortunately, we have recently seen how performance enhancing drugs can cast a cloud over athletes and jeopardize the integrity of sports.

Professional athletes in particular bear a special responsibility. Whether they like it or not, professional athletes are role models. They have a great deal of influence over young people and have the ability to provide a positive impact upon their local communities. We have seen this first hand in Southeast Louisiana. We have seen the influence a league, a team, and its players can have.

The NFL has been committed to helping New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region since Hurricane Katrina. By the end of 2005, the league had raised well over $20 million. Commissioner Goodell, on behalf of my constituents and those that have been helped by the NFL in our region, thank you for your hard work and for the NFL's strong commitment to our recovery.

I also want to thank you for selecting New Orleans as the host of the Super Bowl in 2013. This will be the 10th Super Bowl we've hosted, and is yet another bright sign that New Orleans is still a world-class city that can host major events. And it is another milestone in our recovery.

The Saints organization must also be commended for the support they have shown to the city and state they call home. Following Hurricane Katrina, the Saints set up a relief fund that provided much needed resources to charities around our region. They also made a commitment to return to New Orleans after not being able to play a single game in the city during the 2005 season.

In 2006 at their first game back in New Orleans, the Saints showed what a team can do for a city and for its fans. The atmosphere that September night in the Superdome was electric as the Saints started their most successful season in franchise history, at least until now, with a resounding victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

More importantly, the Saints gave the people of Louisiana hope that their way of life was slowly returning to normal. They galvanized our region and provided a much needed boost and distraction from the difficult recovery process. I am proud to have the Saints headquartered in my district.

The spirit and generosity of the New Orleans Saints start at the top with its owner, Tom Benson, and his wife, Gayle, and Tom's granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc, who is also Owner and Executive Vice President. They have dedicated countless hours and resources to helping the people of our region. In 2008, the Volunteers of America recognized Tom Benson as the recipient of its annual Good Samaritan Award in Philanthropy in recognition of his "incomparable efforts to rebuild the region following Hurricane Katrina."

And we have seen the same generosity from the Saints' players. Drew Brees has become actively engaged in the community along with his wife, Brittany, through their Brees Dream Foundation, which is dedicated to helping advance cancer research, and providing care, education, and opportunities for children in need. Since its founding, the Brees Drew Foundation has raised and/or committed over $4.5 million to help advance cancer research and help rebuild schools, parks, playgrounds and athletic fields in New Orleans and other communities.

Drew has participated in USO tours to the Persian Gulf, Japan, and Guantanamo Bay, and he also serves on the Board of Directors of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. In recognition of his efforts off the field, Drew was named the 2006 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Drew is a true humanitarian, and we are proud to have him as a member of the New Orleans community.

There are other proud examples of the positive impact NFL athletes can have on our local community. Reggie Bush rebuilt Tad Gormley Stadium's field, which hosts many high school football games in New Orleans. And we all know the positive impact the entire Manning family has had for decades inspiring the youth of our region.

Mr. Chairman, Southeast Louisiana is a prime example of the influence professional sports can have on a community and region, especially during one of its most difficult periods. The efforts of the NFL, the Saints, and its players are a testament to the integrity of sports…an integrity that should be protected so it does not become jeopardized by the dangers of performance enhancing drugs."

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