This week marks the 30th anniversary of Tom Benson's ownership of the New Orleans Saints. On June 3, 1985, the car dealer and 10 partners completed their purchase of the NFL franchise for $70.2 million, buying the team from founding owner John Mecom Jr. of Houston.
"Mecom and I must have signed (papers) 100 times," The Times-Picayune quoted Benson as saying. "But we're all finished. It is done." Benson, then 57, began as an underdog in the bidding process, with the favorite being billionaire businessman A.N. Pritzker. That deal fell through, and state and city tax breaks opened the door for Benson. Then-Gov. Edwin Edwards called the whole thing a miracle and added, "I want to predict the next great miracle. The Saints are going to have a winning season this year." That did not come to pass; the Saints made their first playoff appearance in 1987 (under General Manager Jim Finks, coach Jim Mora and quarterback Bobby Hebert). Fans may remember the Saints owner dancing his famous Benson boogie on the field almost weekly that season. As all good Who Dats know, 2010 would bring New Orleans the miracle of all miracles: a Super Bowl win.