Saints send message to fans

Throughout all the labor talks New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and the rest of the franchise’s brain trust remained virtually silent. But now that there officially is a lockout, the Saints became the first NFC South team to publically address its fans.

They sent out a lengthy e-mail to the media this morning. They didn’t attribute the statement to Benson or anyone in particular. They just said it was a team statement, so ultimately you can say these are Benson’s words, since he’s the top figure in the franchise.

Here’s the statement in its entirety.

“The expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players’ union is an unfortunate and serious situation. The Saints organization is concerned for the people involved, especially for the great fans of our game, and particularly those of our team. We take this current period sincerely and are resolute in our determination to reach a common accord. We remain confident that meaningful dialogue between the league and the players’ union will continue until such time that a resolution is reached.

“To that end the Saints organization will continue to make plans for a highly successful future, both in 2011 and beyond. We are striving to improve in every area. Our football operations are preparing for the draft, our coaches continue to prepare for football and our business operations continue to work closely with our sponsors and our fans, to make sure that they are also prepared for football.

“We are intent on delivering more to our fans, through the millions invested in Superdome improvements to create a state of the art facility for our fans to enjoy Saints football, coupled with the Benson’s family’s investment in Champions Square, in an area previously left underused and blighted for years. The team is also proud of the multi-million dollar investment in the Airline Drive practice facility to make it second to none in the NFL. And throughout, we will continue to be a leader in youth development and community outreach initiatives that are model programs within the NFL year-to-year. We, as an organization, will never forget the tragedy of Katrina and how with the help of our fans we survived and together were able to win our first Super Bowl championship.

“It is important to our organization that we remain in contact with our valued fans throughout this process. Our fans have been integral to our success and we welcome our fans to stay engaged with us as we prepare for football and we will keep all of you fully informed.’’

Can’t say there is any major news in that. But I think the Saints did exactly what they should do in this situation. They told their fans they’ll continue moving forward with all their operations to prepare for the 2011 season, and did it in a reassuring tone.

Gee, kind of makes you wonder why the other three NFC South teams and more teams around the league aren’t making at least some gesture to their fans? Benson has taken his knocks through the years, and some of it is deserved. But, in this case, I think he's way ahead of most of the owners. He has a great fan base, he knows it and he's willing to pledge to keep moving forward in a time of uncertainty. That's precisely what he needed to do and what a lot of other owners need to do.