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Altercations dishearten Saints owner Benson

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 3, 2005) -- The Saints say owner Tom Benson has not yet decided whether he will be at a Nov. 6 game in Baton Rouge, and frustration caused him to send an e-mail to the NFL saying he would not attend any more games at LSU's Tiger Stadium this season or next.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Benson was upset by his treatment from fans after the Saints' 21-6 loss to Miami on Oct. 30 in Baton Rouge.

Benson, who attended the game with his wife, Gayle, granddaughter and grandson, was involved in an altercation with a WWL-TV cameraman and a fan as the owner and his family left the stadium near the end of the game.

Copies of Benson's e-mail to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, were obtained by The Times-Picayune and WWL-TV in New Orleans.

In the e-mail, Benson called security at Tiger Stadium "inadequate to nonexistent" and claimed that he and his family members "could have all been severely injured or killed."

"I will not return to Baton Rouge for any reason, including any games scheduled for the end of this season or a contemplated next season," Benson said in the e-mail. "No person, much less the owner of NFL team, should have either he, his family or his friends subjected to this form of danger, intimidation and abuse. I was advised not to go but wanted to support the league."

"Mr. Benson did write a message Sunday night to the commissioner expressing his concern about the incident that occurred following the game," Bensel said. "It was an emotional and distressing situation and very unfortunate for him and his family. His comments to the commissioner relayed his frustration and at this time he has not yet made a decision on his plans for this weekend's game."

As he and his party were leaving the Miami game, Benson lunged at a WWL-TV camera, knocking it down and causing a microphone to fall off. Then, he had a shouting match with a nearby fan.

LSU police chief Ricky Adams said his department had a regularly scheduled conference call with officials from the Saints and the NFL.

"There were no complaints or displeasure at all expressed by the NFL or the Saints about the level of security for last week's game," Adams said. "No one from the Saints requested security for Mr. Benson himself from the local law enforcement agencies. We were advised that he provided his own."

Adams has been involved in security planning for LSU football for 22 years. The stadium holds more than 90,000 for LSU football and thousands more take part in tailgate parties outside the stadium spanning from Friday night to Sunday morning on football weekends.

"We're very practiced at stadium security. Sunday's game was standard," Adams said.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said he is not aware of any security concerns in Baton Rouge and said league officials "are not going to discuss communication between owners and our office."

The NFL said it plans no action against Benson.

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