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Report: Benson family turmoil an issue for the Saints

Barack Obama, Drew Brees, Rita Benson LeBlanc, Gayle Benson, Tom Benson AP

The New Orleans Saints are a team without their leader on the field with quarterback Drew Brees unsigned, and a team without their leader on the sidelines with head coach Sean Payton suspended. And they may also be a team facing leadership questions at the highest levels of their front office.

Saints owner Tom Benson has often praised his 35-year-old granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc, as the right person to lead the franchise for decades to come. But the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports, citing multiple unnamed sources, that LeBlanc is serving some form of unofficial paid administrative leave, imposed by Benson, because the man who has owned the Saints for 27 years is growing concerned with his granddaughter’s approach to business.

The report is short on specifics, saying only that Benson saw “a pattern of behavior that needed to be corrected” from his granddaughter. Among the issues raised are a “lack of focus and abrasive management style,” evidenced by, among other things, going through an estimated 30 assistants in her six years of working full-time with the team. She’s also reportedly “developed a reputation for stalling projects,” and Benson (who made his own money) is concerned that his granddaughter (who was born rich) has developed a sense of entitlement.

Benson, who will turn 85 in July, has said that he’ll eventually turn over control of his team to a family member, and despite these issues, it’s still widely believed that LeBlanc will be that family member. LeBlanc, who has the title of executive vice president, has been the only member of Benson’s family to take a hands-on, day-to-day role in the franchise, and she has been the subject of mostly favorable publicity for her role in helping the Saints and the city rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

LeBlanc is expected to continue to play a major role with the Saints going forward. But her current leave from the team comes at a time when the franchise seems to have no stability at all, on the field or off.

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82 Responses to “Report: Benson family turmoil an issue for the Saints”
  1. karlpilkington says: Apr 22, 2012 8:53 AM

    Entitlement? Hmmmm didnt we just here this same thing said about rg3? However this situation and person really sounds like a problem.. was rg3 born rich, does he even have 1 assistant?

  2. sickpuppyz says: Apr 22, 2012 8:53 AM

    she may be only 35 but she looks closer to 45

  3. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects says: Apr 22, 2012 8:53 AM

    she’s only fired an estimated 30 assistants? wow.

    “all of the assistants were jerks,” according to Saints fans, seeing as how even keel and reasonable they have all been lately.

  4. jenniferxxx says: Apr 22, 2012 8:53 AM

    This is how it goes in an aristocracy. While the King may very well have earned the throne … there’s no guarantee that the various Princes and Princesses are anything special. Take a look at Prince Charles if you need an example.

  5. klee0384 says: Apr 22, 2012 8:54 AM

    The rich kid born with the silver spoon in her mouth feels entitled? Sounds like Mitt Romney!

  6. 5niner says: Apr 22, 2012 8:54 AM

    Hahaha, and they continue their fall.

  7. cubsin2049 says: Apr 22, 2012 9:05 AM

    Tom’s message to her: “Leave now or there will be a bounty on your head — or ankle.” You choose….

  8. gotampabay52 says: Apr 22, 2012 9:13 AM

    Give her the control watch her take down the saints who dat going to beat them saints granddaughter thats who screw who dat

  9. scott8nj says: Apr 22, 2012 9:13 AM

    Maybe Benson can turn the team over to Parcells until one of the grandchildren is ready.

  10. AlohaMrHand says: Apr 22, 2012 9:16 AM

    that’s your new ownership Hornet fans

  11. howiefeltersnatch says: Apr 22, 2012 9:26 AM

    They were rogue assistants

  12. buzmeg says: Apr 22, 2012 9:28 AM

    “paid administrative leave”

    Fancy term for putting someone on the chopping block. Sounds as if she’s been fired.

  13. duanethomas says: Apr 22, 2012 9:30 AM

    So when the next labor fight comes around all the pro-owner shills will be standing up for the Rita’s, Irsays, etc owners who did nothing but were born on third base. Entitlement. Lazy. Unfocused. She will not give a dam about the players, only profit so she can live a charmed life. The league should make the family sell after Benson is no longer around instead of giving it to his neer to do granddaughter.

  14. thejuddstir says: Apr 22, 2012 9:31 AM

    Surely it’s Roger Goodell or Greg Williams fault right Taints* fans…..30 assistants in 5 years, I’d say there’s definitely a sense of entitlement, just as the Taints* received after Katrina.

  15. Wisconsin77 says: Apr 22, 2012 9:35 AM

    Karma

  16. breadslicer says: Apr 22, 2012 9:35 AM

    Hope all you Saints fans enjoyed your tainted Lombardi.

  17. santolonius says: Apr 22, 2012 9:40 AM

    maybe she’s gone off to learn the game of basketball. scenario: grampa bought the hornets as a set of training wheels for miss leblanc.

  18. mrbigass says: Apr 22, 2012 9:42 AM

    Yep, a timeout will definitely fix her attitude. Works with 2nd graders all the time…..

  19. nygsbchamps4 says: Apr 22, 2012 9:42 AM

    Lol the comments on this piece are hilarious, especially the ones from jenniferxxx, and Kleeo.

  20. fcs34 says: Apr 22, 2012 9:48 AM

    Drew Brees has yet to see any substantive proof that her management style was abrasive.

  21. chadmurdigan says: Apr 22, 2012 9:50 AM

    Somebody in that organization better take control and get Brees signed. Geez, talk about a totally dysfunctional mess in the City that Care Forgot.

  22. TheWizard says: Apr 22, 2012 9:51 AM

    Paid leave.

    What a hard lesson.

  23. jimiinpa says: Apr 22, 2012 9:55 AM

    and the musicians played on as the ship sank

  24. tjacks7 says: Apr 22, 2012 9:58 AM

    I missed the part where this is a problem for the saints? A problem for the bensons? Yes. The saints? Doubtful, until benson passes the torch.

  25. abninf says: Apr 22, 2012 10:00 AM

    Who Dat!

  26. sportsmeccabi says: Apr 22, 2012 10:04 AM

    Wait his granddaughter is taking over the team and he really doesn’t want her running the business aspect of it?
    My only question is: is she single? I’m a panthers fan, but I still wouldn’t mind owning the saints.

  27. kathyisintheroom says: Apr 22, 2012 10:04 AM

    She is doing a better job than most males in her position, who only have their jobs due to family or the “good ol boy network”.
    Most people have no idea how hard it is to find the right assistant, and she has no problem axing those who don’t meet her standards.

    Benson should be proud that she demands excellence, and tosses those aside that don’t measure up. You go girl!

  28. itsnotforme says: Apr 22, 2012 10:06 AM

    Besides Saint fans, Does anybody really care? All the turmoil has been self inflicted. Who Dat going to beat them Saints? Themselves…

  29. lionsdetroitcom says: Apr 22, 2012 10:07 AM

    The Saints are an absolute mess, I’m actually starting to feel bad for their organization.

  30. dietrich43 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:10 AM

    Did the assistants take out a bounty on her?

  31. ascensionparish says: Apr 22, 2012 10:12 AM

    They’ll still be 12-4. Amazing.

  32. robf2010 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:12 AM

    He must see a lot of himself in her. Benson goes through a lot of personnel, particularly managers, at his car dealerships.

  33. bp888 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:15 AM

    Brees is shocked and wants an explanation!!

  34. 4512dawg4512 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:18 AM

    The Los Angeles Saints, hmmm its got a nice ring to it

  35. electionconfidential says: Apr 22, 2012 10:21 AM

    Wow, a sense of entitlement in the Saints organization? Who’d a thunk it…

  36. quickwitt says: Apr 22, 2012 10:21 AM

    Ah yes, another shining example of a man mixing toxic family poison into the business. At least the Saints won a Super Bowl with Benson as owner but it seems it will be the only one until the family sells the franchise down the road. As a long-suffering Falcons fan, I know all too well about family poison, having followed the “5 Smiths Inc” family soap opera since the 70s. Only when they sold to Arthur Blank did Falcons fans have hope for better days. I hope we get our Super Bowl win in Arthur’s lifetime, and mine!

  37. jimbo75025 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:27 AM

    Sounds like she has been a known problem and he is trying to “scare her straight” if you will. If this doesn’t work and she still ends up getting the team, Saints fans could be in for some bad years ahead.

  38. expertop says: Apr 22, 2012 10:32 AM

    Let me summarize the anticipated responses from the usual suspects:

    The Bountys R a LIE!!! No players were injured except a SAINT!! Your all jellus!! Geaux Saints! married my cousin The Road to the SUPER BOWL goes thru NOLA!! WHO DAT!!!!!

  39. mattmillen4president says: Apr 22, 2012 10:41 AM

    Combat entitlement by paying her to not work. I don’t see how that could fail.

  40. buhbay1c says: Apr 22, 2012 10:45 AM

    Let’s be honest, the city of New Orleans isn’t exactly known for outstanding leadership.

  41. vikingamericann says: Apr 22, 2012 10:48 AM

    What a Bunch of schadenfreudes

    from proverbs “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth” be nice little Christians take joy in the hardship of others is a no no.

  42. vontazemebro says: Apr 22, 2012 10:51 AM

    Crisis of leadership? Sounds like Mr. Benson stepped right up when he saw problems. Seems like “leadership” to me

  43. tackleberries says: Apr 22, 2012 10:59 AM

    This feels like the plot to Any Given Sunday.

  44. jus10jonez says: Apr 22, 2012 11:01 AM

    This would be a 1000 times more interesting if she were sleeping with someone from the Saints, like Brees

  45. jluns275 says: Apr 22, 2012 11:14 AM

    Beautiful portrait of a group of crooks

  46. stanklepoot says: Apr 22, 2012 11:20 AM

    What happens now that Benson has bought the Hornets? Doesn’t the NFL have a rule about owning teams in multiple leagues in the same city?

  47. mybrunoblog says: Apr 22, 2012 11:22 AM

    Gee, didn’t grandpa Benson notice something was seriously wrong when she went through oh, I dont know maybe the first 5 or 10 assistants? 30 assistants in 6 years? Wtf?

  48. itsmebobd says: Apr 22, 2012 11:25 AM

    Lets do a POLL.
    Thumbs UP if you knew this was for Rita Leblanc Benson
    Thumbs DOWN if you thought this was for CEDRIC BENSON getting a call from the saints, and the title meant his family issues were why they wouldn’t sign him

    Seriously, With BENSON, I assume its cedric benson, not some 85 yr old OWNER. I vote thumbs down, cause honestly who cares about some owners family for the saints?

  49. btownbucfan says: Apr 22, 2012 11:29 AM

    Maybe she was paying players to take-out unwanted assistants?

  50. imaginesuperbowlwin says: Apr 22, 2012 11:34 AM

    Did she fire 30 assistants, or did 30 assistants quit?

  51. underrated49ers says: Apr 22, 2012 11:37 AM

    The hits just keep on coming for the Saints. I don’t think Brees will sign his tender either. Peyton Manning proved you could take a year off football and still get $96 million why shouldn’t he try?

  52. calvikefan1 says: Apr 22, 2012 11:39 AM

    Hey kleeo384 , isn’t that you standing next to Obama in the picture ? You must have just cashed your welfare check, according to that big smile on your face.

  53. patfic15 says: Apr 22, 2012 11:40 AM

    Perfect cast in the pic if entitlement is the issue.

  54. blackngold4877 says: Apr 22, 2012 11:42 AM

    Kleeo, Romney has been very successful and is quite honestly the exact opposite of what Benson-Leblanc is being portrayed as here. I say this as someone who won’t vote for Romney, but let’s give credit where it’s due.

    As far as this story goes, it’s 100% true. I live in New Orleans and heard about this weeks ago from someone who knows the Bensons.

  55. 504in860 says: Apr 22, 2012 11:45 AM

    itsmebobd says:
    Apr 22, 2012 11:25 AM
    Lets do a POLL.
    Thumbs UP if you knew this was for Rita Leblanc Benson
    Thumbs DOWN if you thought this was for CEDRIC BENSON getting a call from the saints, and the title meant his family issues were why they wouldn’t sign him

    Seriously, With BENSON, I assume its cedric benson, not some 85 yr old OWNER. I vote thumbs down, cause honestly who cares about some owners family for the saints?
    ————————————————–

    How about thumbs down for being a moron?

  56. joelvis72 says: Apr 22, 2012 11:54 AM

    Naughty Rita needs to be “corrected.” But she looks kinda like Tom Benson with long hair and boobs.

  57. purplescar says: Apr 22, 2012 11:59 AM

    Schism!

  58. phinfan says: Apr 22, 2012 12:03 PM

    She sounds like the witch from Major League movie

  59. boobsmcgoo says: Apr 22, 2012 12:05 PM

    Thanks for giving the Viking fans another opportunity to vent about the Saints while ignoring their own problems, ineptitude, lack of championships, crappy stadium, and impending departure to Los Angeles. Ya, you betcha:)!

  60. apm says: Apr 22, 2012 12:05 PM

    The third generation is often where family businesses go wrong.

  61. matthewcarlson1 says: Apr 22, 2012 12:08 PM

    lionsdetroitcom says:
    Apr 22, 2012 10:07 AM
    The Saints are an absolute mess, I’m actually starting to feel bad for their organization.
    ————————–
    You know you’re in trouble when Lions fans even feel bad for you.

  62. ss2k8 says: Apr 22, 2012 12:13 PM

    At this rate we’re going to have 32 Billy Madison rejects running the show.

  63. 504in860 says: Apr 22, 2012 12:24 PM

    This of course has nothing to do with all the TDs they’ll be scoring this season.

    11 wins at least.

  64. rohlo says: Apr 22, 2012 12:31 PM

    a) a new generation version of georgia frontierre former rams owner who ran club into ground and moved them to st louis from los angeles(even though winning a superbowl there her leadership stunk) .not to mention she was all about the glitz and glamour

    b)team could be led by a person who’s commitment isnt there and just cares about money and the spotlight and have a her way or no way attitude kind of like al davis ,minus the football knowledge..

    benson better get someone in position to take the rigns thats comitted or it will be hard times in nola and the rreturn of the AINTS and brown paper bags!!!!

  65. skinstidecubsfan says: Apr 22, 2012 12:33 PM

    I Thought there was a rule that nfl owners could not own any other sports teams? anyhow,i bet the “AINTS” return this season with all the turmoil down there! i heard they wanted dog the bounty hunter to coach next year for sean peyton!

  66. waltdawg says: Apr 22, 2012 12:36 PM

    I bet that she is a real pleasure to be around when she is loaded….YIKES. She’ll fly through husbands faster than the secretary scenario!

  67. purpleguy says: Apr 22, 2012 12:39 PM

    Precisely what level of this organization operates with character — the cleaning staff?

  68. all32 says: Apr 22, 2012 12:45 PM

    She was seen going into Greg Williams house and Vilma was seen soon after going in with a hamlet on. Bree’s was also there looking for an explanation.

  69. wetpaperbag3 says: Apr 22, 2012 12:48 PM

    King Lear playing out in the NFL. Sweet!

  70. 504in860 says: Apr 22, 2012 1:21 PM

    skinstidecubsfan says:
    Apr 22, 2012 12:33 PM
    I Thought there was a rule that nfl owners could not own any other sports teams? anyhow,i bet the “AINTS” return this season with all the turmoil down there! i heard they wanted dog the bounty hunter to coach next year for sean peyton!
    ________________________________

    We’ll see how much “turmoil” they have when your Skins get stomped in Week 1.

  71. backindasaddle says: Apr 22, 2012 1:28 PM

    Just a spoiled little rich girl who has a huge sense of entitlement because she knows she’s in an incredible position of having the keys to the empire handed to her and there’s nobody that can stop it. She doesn’t dig in and do the hard work because…. she’s doesn’t have to. She’s got lots of “minions” to do everything for her and because she has all the power and control she can do whatever she wants to. Loves the glitz and world travel and spotlight jet-set highlife stuff…. but no so much the hard work stuff. Thus the “lack of focus” tag. Anytime some lucky sperm club member is “anointed” the ruler of the Kingdom when then haven’t earned the right means the Kingdom is in serious peril. Sounds like old Tom… who built the Kingdom and earned his way in life… sees that his granddaughter hasn’t learned the values and work ethic he wants to see.

  72. jluns275 says: Apr 22, 2012 2:41 PM

    The New Orleans Saints
    Quality & integrity throughout the organization.
    No really.
    Stay classy New Orleans!
    *

  73. silentcount says: Apr 22, 2012 2:55 PM

    There is no turmoil as long as Benson observes a problem and is taking the proper steps to correct it. How many times have you seen the owner of a company allow his kids, grand kids and relatives free reign of his company and turn a blind eye to their incompetence? At least Benson is saying, “If you don’t work as hard as me, then you’re out.”

  74. skilaufenhase says: Apr 22, 2012 3:14 PM

    Makes Jed York look pretty good

  75. SeenThisB4 says: Apr 22, 2012 3:23 PM

    The NFL rule on franchise ownership is that an owner cannot own a sports franchise outside of their own market, in other words, Benson can buy the Hornets, but he can’t but the Charlotte Bobcats.

  76. SeenThisB4 says: Apr 22, 2012 3:24 PM

    The NFL rule on franchise ownership is that an owner cannot own a sports franchise outside of their own market, in other words, Benson can buy the Hornets, but he can’t buy the Charlotte Bobcats.

  77. footballfan292 says: Apr 22, 2012 3:35 PM

    Very common. You have a guy who builds an empire. He then has children who are born into wealth who take over and screw it all up.

  78. NationalFlagFootballLeague says: Apr 22, 2012 3:45 PM

    lionsdetroitcom says: Apr 22, 2012 10:07 AM

    The Saints are an absolute mess, I’m actually starting to feel bad for their organization.

    =================

    hahahahaha…..don’t feel bad for us please. As a Lions fan, you have seen lows that most fans cant even imagine. When was the last time you won a playoff game? Hell, besides last year, when was your last winning season??
    sure was nice blowing yall out last year.
    Get real dude

  79. uptmonsta says: Apr 22, 2012 3:46 PM

    Since when does being more physical than all of the competition taint a Lombardi trophy? The bounty wasn’t “cheating” it was just being vicious and nasty, lets not confuse the two. Just how many “tainted Lombardis” does the great Tom Brady have from spying, which was actual cheating? A lot of you so-called “tough guys” that used to always talk of “punching ‘em in the mouth” have recently become soft puzzies just to justify bashing the Saints. But the signings of Lofton, Hawthorne, and Bunkley means that you puzzies will have to sit back and watch another deep playoff run while bashing. WHO DAT!! no TWO DAT!!!!

  80. doubleogator says: Apr 22, 2012 4:19 PM

    To the juddstir,

    I hope you read this. So you think the Saints received special treatment after Katrina? You have no clue what this city, and team went through during that time, if you did you wouldn’t make idiotic comments like you did, I feel sorry for you and all of the people that are “haters” making these kind of comments, you’re probably one of the morons that were saying that it wasn’t worth trying to rebuild New Orleans too. Well guess what we came back as a City, a community and our team endured and won a super bowl, I know, go ahead and call it “tainted” like the other losers that can’t stand to see real winners….

  81. driverjim says: Apr 22, 2012 5:24 PM

    Bah, Benson should pull a Davis and keep on going ’til he can’t go no more then leave the team to his oldest child as a “take that!” for any alleged feelings of entitlement.

    I have no problem with a woman owner. My issues with crap teams around the league should say as much.

    I harp on the players for bitching about not getting enough money when they moake more in a year then I’ll ever see; I harp on coaching staff’s that had no idea what their doing; I harp on ownership that either looks like they don’t care about their bottom line (Glazers, Jones anybody?) or have a fixation with Tweeter and must absolutely inform us when they go to the can (Irsay is the hint).

    Why can’t owners be like the two best examples of keeping things in house and quiet? Pat Bowlen and Robert Kraft rarely make headlines and when they do it’s for a much better reason that “Oh, poor team is embroiled with yet more crap that nobody really cares about!”.

    Bah, shut up and give us football. We, the fans, want that good old in-your-face smash mouth where the rock gets pounded, bodies fly, heads come off and somebody gets lit up like a Christmas tree. Y’know, the good stuff.

  82. jdoub732 says: Apr 23, 2012 11:01 AM

    Still alot of haters.they want to c my team stop shinning. Pray our fame start declining whining like girlies. In my biggie voice. Pray and pray on our down fall

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