A look back through the years with New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson.
Training camp usually brings a chaos of its own, not only to the players, but to the coaches and executives who will decide which players they will bring into the 16-game season. However, this year, there will be more adjustments than usual for the New Orleans Saints.
On March 15, 2018, at the age of 90, Saints owner Tom Benson died. He is survived by his wife, Gayle Benson, who has taken over as owner of the Saints and Pelicans.
Since purchasing the team in 1985, Tom Benson had attended every training camp with the Saints. This year will be the first time that Executive Vice President/General Manager, Mickey Loomis, who has spent 18 years with the team, and Coach Sean Payton, who has spent 12 years with the team, have gone into training camp without Mr. Benson.
"It will definitely be different. It will be different for me because I spent a lot of time in training camp, probably more time during training camp with Mr. B than any other time," Loomis said during his pre-training camp press conference Wednesday. "He loved training camp, being around the team and seeing the progress and talking about it for hours sometimes. I am going to miss that interaction."
"Well, we already miss him, by now we probably would have had a few different sit-downs and just chatted," Payton said Wednesday. "We will miss him daily and yet Miss Gayle and the leadership in our building have done a great job of really carrying the torch in a fashion that he would be proud of. I think all of us hold that responsibility and take that responsibility very strongly. Miss Gayle has quickly jumped in and been very supportive. I know she's looking forward to the start of camp and being able to see the fans and interact. This will be the first training camp (without Mr. Benson) and hopefully we can make him proud."
Payton also mentioned that he misses Mr. Benson, and by now he probably "would have had a few different sit downs and chatted with him." However, both Loomis and Payton have credited Gayle Benson with a seamless crossover in ownership.
"Mrs. Gayle and leadership in our building have done a great job of really carrying the torch in a fashion that they know he would be proud of," said Payton. "It will be different and yet Mrs. Gayle has quickly jumped in and been very supportive."
For now, Saints fans and personnel will remember Tom Benson through a "TB" black and gold logo in the center of the practice field.
"Hopefully we can make him proud," said Payton, who will enter training camp on July 26.