Long-time New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson passed away at the age of 90, the team announced on its official Twitter page:
Benson is survived by wife by his third wife of 14 years, Gayle Marie, and daughter, Renee. Benson was previously married twice, but both had passed away. He adopted three children with first wife Shirley, though Renee is the last surviving one.
Born in New Orleans, Benson owned several car dealerships and bought numerous banks. He used his wealth to purchase the Saints franchise in 1985. Under his ownership, the long-time losing franchise saw significant improvement.
After failing to make the playoffs between 1967-86, the Saints proceeded to qualify for the postseason four times in six years, between '87 and 1992. Much of that was due to Benson, who wisely hired Jim Mora to steer the ship and lead this franchise to an impressive run.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Benson worked hard in repairing the city of New Orleans. A year later, he hired Sean Payton to become the new head coach, while signing legendary quarterback Drew Brees in free agency.
The Saints have since enjoyed their most remarkable stretch in franchise history. Between 2006 and 2018, they've made the playoffs six times, reached two NFC Championships and took home Super Bowl 44.
Benson was popular among reporters, players and NFL owners for his colorful personality and extreme professionalism. Following his passing, Jim Mora and former player Reggie Bush (among others), appeared on NFL Network and shared major praise towards Benson:
Benson purchased the Pelicans NBA franchise in 2012 for $338 million franchise. As of now, it's expected that Gayle will assume ownership of both franchises Tom Benson left behind.
It's a sad day for the city and world of football. Benson was among the most caring and kind-hearted owners that professional sports had to offer. But his legacy will forever live on in New Orleans.
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