If you want to Saints to stay in New Orleans, buy ticket for Sundays game

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2005

There is good reason for you and anyone else to buy a ticket to the Saints&8217; game at LSU Sunday against Nick Saban and the Miami Dolphins.

Forget about all the arguing over the Saints&8217; future, Benson&8217;s reported wishes to keep the team in San Antonio and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ready to welcome the entire organization back sans owner.

If there&8217;s a poor turnout Sunday in front of NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and several state officials, you might as well consider them gone.

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Of all the uncertainty following the hurricane with the Saints setting up temporary shop in San Antonio, the city there trying to keep them, Tom Benson reportedly meeting with officials there to do so, folks in Louisiana wondering if anybody cares one ounce about them.

Talk about a new low for humanity. Already punched in the head by the hurricane, the team&8217;s die-hard fans then took the talk of the team leaving as a punch in the stomach.

The only way to answer is to go to the game Sunday.

&8220;We really need it full,&8221; said Natchez resident Tony Byrne, who vacated the team&8217;s fan advisory board in August following a five-year stint. &8220;I would hope anybody interested in keeping the Saints would try to go to the game. I&8217;m still very supportive of the Saints. I think it&8217;s great for New Orleans.&8221;

There is reason for you to go.

Someone needs to stand up for this team. San Antonio wants them to stay, state lawmakers would like to put money in other projects and both sides have bickered more than your least favorite in-laws at a Sunday picnic.

This is where you come in. Someone needs to show how much they want the team in Louisiana to stay. They need the people who have tuned in every Sunday even before the Mike Ditka era, before the massacre at home to the Vikings, before the 1-15 season and even before the team hired a guy as general manager just because he was an astronaut.

The Saints need you to show up Sunday.

The people of the state need the Saints. The team is the state&8217;s only connection to any major professional sports association in the country (if you think the Hornets will stay forever and ever, you&8217;re kidding yourself).

In a state that&8217;s been battered by two hurricanes recently but has lagged behind in nearly every category among the other 49, a Saints&8217; win brings joy to so many people. If you don&8217;t believe me, ask anyone where they were when they won their first playoff game.

But now people are starting to wonder. Benson fired top man Arnold Fielkow and requesting to void the lease to the state-funded practice facility voided.

&8220;I don&8217;t know what Tom Benson is thinking,&8221; Byrne said. &8220;He reminds me of Archie Bunker, and he looks like it. To fire Arnold Fielkow shocked me to no end. He seemed to be getting the job done. (Benson)&8217;s public relations in New Orleans has been horrible except when he&8217;d go down on the field and does the Benson boogie. He just seems to agitate people.&8221;

You can still be upset about what&8217;s happened with the organization, but you may have one last attempt to save it Sunday. (If you think the NFL would grant New Orleans the so-called Cleveland plan if the Saints left, again, you&8217;re kidding yourself.)

If the Saints leave, it would be a sad day. And not just funeral sad.

More like mass murder sad.

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat Reach him at (601) 445-3632 or at