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Saints Owner Tom Benson Passes Away at Age 90

Tom Benson, the powerful and at times polarizing owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, who delighted fans in his early years with his Benson Boogie and at times frustrated them with his frequent demands and threats to relocate the team, died Thursday (March 15), Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. He was 90.

Benson was admitted to Ochsner Hospital in mid-February with flu-like symptoms that multiple sources said included a bout with pneumonia. He was moved to the intensive care unit days later and remained there until the time of his death. Benson’s condition appeared to be improving in late February, according to a report issued by team officials, but his health took a downturn in recent days.

A self-proclaimed workaholic, he had reduced his work schedule and travel in recent weeks because of his declining health. His last regular day of work at the Saints-Pelicans Metairie offices was before the Mardi Gras holidays. He did not attend Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis and was forced to miss several Pelicans home games. A trip to his Paris, Kentucky, horse farm over Carnival weekend was cut short because he wasn’t feeling well.

Born in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, Benson ascended from his hardscrabble roots to become one of the wealthiest men in Louisiana by building a $2.8 billion business empire, according to a 2017 estimate by Forbes. After buying the Saints in 1985, he became one of the state’s most influential and controversial figures. Tom Benson, the powerful and at times polarizing owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, who delighted fans in his early years with his Benson Boogie and at times frustrated them with his frequent demands and threats to relocate the team, died Thursday (March 15), the teams announced in a statement. He was 90.

Benson was admitted to Ochsner Hospital in mid-February with flu-like symptoms that multiple sources said included a bout with pneumonia. He was moved to the intensive care unit days later and remained there until the time of his death. Benson’s condition appeared to be improving in late February, according to a report issued by team officials, but his health took a downturn in recent days.

A self-proclaimed workaholic, he had reduced his work schedule and travel in recent weeks because of his declining health. His last regular day of work at the Saints-Pelicans Metairie offices was before the Mardi Gras holidays. He did not attend Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis and was forced to miss several Pelicans home games. A trip to his Paris, Kentucky, horse farm over Carnival weekend was cut short because he wasn’t feeling well.

Born in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, Benson ascended from his hardscrabble roots to become one of the wealthiest men in Louisiana by building a $2.8 billion business empire, according to a 2017 estimate by Forbes. After buying the Saints in 1985, he became one of the state’s most influential and controversial figures.


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