By Bill Bradley, contributing editor
As part of the New Orleans Saints' bid for Super Bowl LII, team representative Rita Benson LeBlanc told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport that the team would use the championship game as a way to promote USA Football's Heads Up Football program in the state.
"We're working with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to codify Heads Up Football and a training program that's implemented throughout the entire state," said LeBlanc, who is the team's vice chairman of the board and granddaughter of team owner Tom Benson. "So that takes a little bit of time. But they need a congregation point. They need a space. And we've been doing a lot of coaching regionally as far as coaching certification but it was different programs.
"So now with Heads Up Football and that research now, it's this is the most current, cutting edge as far as research as to what are the best tackles and what are the best things to teach. So we would want to expand that"
Bids for Super Bowl LII will be presented Tuesday and are expected to be voted on before the owners meetings end this week in Atlanta. New Orleans hosted the game in 2013 and is bidding for the 2018 event, which would fall on the city's 300th anniversary.
LeBlanc said another part of the team's bid will be an outreach program as part the league's mandatory Legacy Project, which attempts to improve areas of a city that host the Super Bowl. One option is for a community sports complex that could be originally used as a training site for one of the Super Bowl participants.
"This last time, in New Orleans, we worked very closely with the league staff to come up with just a new plan to divvy up around the city those monies that would normally go into a YET (NFL Youth Education Town) center," LeBlanc said. "And we reached out to many different fields and also the Super Bowl field was placed at one of the high school in New Orleans. And so we reached about five different locations. So that has been very top-of-mind from the league staff themselves as to what were the leave behinds.
"And usually it just makes the most sense to have it be football oriented. So we've been looking at different locations within the city as to where we either could do a public-private partnership or where would be the best to kind of do another football facility where the other team -- our Saints facility is where the NFC would go -- and so the AFC, where would be that other location. Some facilities that are being constructed wouldn't necessarily be available in time, and so this was kind of our solution for that."
LeBlanc said the New Orleans bid also could tie in something the city is known for -- food. A portion of restaurant proceeds will be divided among 31 teams for their legacy funds or other programs, Rapoport reported.
"It was our host committee conversations. We were sitting there and thinking, it's been used before in terms of post-Katrina and certain days, even in New York, it was pretty much to benefit New Orleans," she said. "At one time, I think it was all the appetizers or all the desserts or all the shrimp items. So it's something that we've definitely seen happen before and have experienced, so we were looking at ways to say thank you and to give that gracious act back.
"Post-Katrina, New York sent down a fire truck. When 9-11 happened, we sent a fire truck. When Katrina happened, they sent a fire truck. So there's things that not everybody remembers but we do. And it doesn't have to be millions of dollars of a grant or an angel gift, that kind of thing. But this a way that it reminds real people, real touch and kind of a connectivity. It was, again, another way to showcase the Louisiana seafood industry and the restaurants themselves. We look for as many win-wins, and that's how this has come together."