Roger Goodell: Benson was a 'true leader'

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson died Thursday afternoon at the age of 90.

Benson bought the Saints in 1985. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released this statement about Benson's contributions to the league.

"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. 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."

Benson's wife, Gayle, will assume ownership of the team.