NFL mourns death of Saints owner Tom Benson

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  • By NFL.com
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New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson passed away on Thursday at the age of 90. He passed away peacefully Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans with his wife Gayle Marie Benson at his side. Mr. Benson was hospitalized with the flu Feb. 16.

The National Football League, its teams and players expressed condolences over Benson's death:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

"Tom Benson's contributions to New Orleans and the National Football League were legendary. He purchased a team that had never had a winning season; by the third year of his ownership, the Saints were in the playoffs," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Tom kept the Saints together through the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, and his decision to bring the team back to New Orleans gave the entire region hope and confidence that they would recover. The Saints rewarded their fans with tremendous football and a Super Bowl championship.

"Tom loved New Orleans, where he was a generous and caring philanthropist. Within the NFL, he was a true leader among NFL owners. He served as the chairman of the League's Finance Committee for many years, was a key advisor to my predecessors, and was someone whom I frequently turned to since becoming Commissioner. I know that the entire NFL family joins me in extending our most heartfelt condolences to Gayle Benson and the entire Saints organization."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver:

"The NBA family mourns the loss of New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson. Big-hearted and gracious, Tom topped off a distinguished business and sports career by acquiring the Pelicans in 2012. During his tenure, he hosted two highly-successful All-Star Games, rebranded the franchise and installed a first-class organization. He was a dear friend to me and so many others in the sports world, and the loss of his authentic and unique presence will leave an enormous void. We send our heartfelt condolences to Gayle, their family, the Pelicans and the Saints, and his countless friends."

Lions owner and chairman Martha Firestone Ford

"On behalf of my family and The Detroit Lions organization, I want to express our deepest sympathies to Gayle, the Benson family and the entire New Orleans Saints organization on the passing of Mr. Benson.

"Tom provided the Saints with tremendous leadership for more than three decades and his many contributions to our League, the City of New Orleans and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are well documented and will serve as a lasting and profound legacy."

Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Benson. I have had the great fortune of knowing Mr. Benson for decades. He possessed a deep passion for the game and was committed to its growth. He believed strongly in promoting the game and its positive values to generations of fans. His legacy will live forever in Canton, Ohio through his generosity and support that helped launch a vision for the future by celebrating this great game we love."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

"Tom was a friend and an ally, and I admired him greatly. He was a proud Texan, who also embraced his leadership role in the State of Louisiana. His spirit and competitiveness were a perfect fit for all Saints fans and the City of New Orleans. Tom was not only a great and generous owner, but he was also a very productive contributor to the National Football League.

"He was astute, exceptionally smart and an accomplished sportsman and businessman. His marketing and finance expertise guided the League's Finance Committee for years. He pumped life and enthusiasm into a community and a franchise that had no winning seasons before he became involved, and he brought them a championship and a great sense of pride that will be felt for years to come. Our thoughts go out to his family and all of the lives that he touched. This is a sad day for the NFL."

Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie

"I am saddened to hear about Tom's passing. Tom cared deeply about the game of football, the city of New Orleans and its fanbase. My thoughts and condolences are with his wife Gayle and the entire Saints organization during this difficult time."

Falcons owner Arthur Blank

"Tom was a pillar of the National Football League for over 30 years and a champion of his beloved New Orleans his entire life. His impact on that community, the Saints franchise and our league will live on for years to come. On behalf of my family and the entire Atlanta Falcons organization, I extend our condolences to Tom's wife Gayle, his family and many friends. Our teams have been fierce competitors on the field, but I will remember and be forever grateful for the respect and friendship we have shared over the years."

Raiders owner Mark Davis

"The Raiders family was saddened to learn of the passing of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. Mr. Benson was an instrumental influence on the league's growth upon purchasing the Saints in 1985 and his leadership was essential to New Orleans becoming a frequent host for the Super Bowl. His dedication to community and charitable endeavors will continue to live on in New Orleans and beyond. The Raider Nation's thoughts and prayers are with Gayle Benson and the Benson family at this time."

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