At a time when Saints owner Tom Benson faces a bitter family legal challenge to his plan for the franchise after his passing, Saints coach Sean Payton has made it clear that the franchise is firmly behind Tom Benson.
Via Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Payton has placed a large photo of Benson celebrating the team’s Super Bowl XLIV championship at the team’s indoor practice facility.
“I mentioned it to [G.M.] Mickey [Loomis] and he thought it was a great idea,” Payton said. “You try to think of things that will send a message or make an impact on our staff, our players seeing something every day, while we practice. We have photos up on the walls of our indoor facility of our Super Bowl game, Steve Gleason’s blocked punt — great team images that have captured what we have built here and what we continue to build.
“The guy that has meant the most to our organization and our success is Mr. Benson. No one deserves that more. It is a simple but important gesture. We could not have had the success that we have enjoyed without Mr. Benson. He has one goal every year, to win a championship for our fans. . . . I think putting that image of him up there reminds us daily of what we are working for.”
Saints quarterback Drew Brees needs no explanation for the move.
“This is a great gesture by coach Payton to honor a man that has played such a big part in not only my success individually but also the success achieved by the organization as whole,” Brees said. “Mr. Benson played an important role in my decision to come to New Orleans and join the Saints and I treasure the relationship I have had with him over the past nine years and look forward to tightening that bond in the years to come.”
As Holder notes, Payton is the favor to Benson, sort of. During Payton’s suspension in 2012, Benson put a giant photo of Payton on the wall of the practice facility with the saying that traces to his mentor, Bill Parcells: “Do Your Job.”
Plenty of Saints players, coaches, and executives have done their jobs pretty well in recent years, taking a team that struggled for decades to find success and making it a consistent contender.