Today’s item from Rosenthal regarding Saints spokesman Greg Bensel’s frustrated response to media e-mail inquiries regarding the disappearance of 1,200 seats at the Superdome for 2010 is the latest example of some heavy-handed behavior by an organization led by a Bill Parcells protege who finally has the hardware to justify periodic boorish behavior.
Before the Saints won the first Super Bowl in franchise history, our pal Mike Freeman of CBS teed off on the Sean Payton regime, pointing out the coach who looks like Malcolm in the Middle has been acting a bit more like one of Malcolm’s older brothers.
Based on a review of the e-mails that Bigad Shaban of WWL-TV exchanged with Bensel, it appears that the organization wants the local media to behave like an extension of the P.R. department, trumpeting the positive news and overlooking anything that may cast the Saints in a negative light.
Said one member of the New Orleans media who asked to be kept anonymous for fear of retaliation from the team, “That story truly shows how the Saints treat the local media. . . . If your name isn’t Costas, King, Glazer, or Werder, the team completely bullies and blows you off.”
The source also tells us that Shaban isn’t the only local reporter who has received borderline hostile e-mails from the team.
This attitude from the Saints toward the local media is unfortunate, and it’s wrong. The Saints have benefited from an enormous amount of goodwill from people in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana. It doesn’t mean that the organization has earned the privilege of never being called out or questioned by the folks who cover it.
In fact, the Saints should welcome the attention. When the decisions and actions of a pro sports team isn’t being scrutinized, it’s only because the team has become irrelevant.