Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Saints Preserve Us

\Sport in America has often been portrayed as a tonic. It's been credited as a stage for social change, a healing salve in times of trouble. After 9/11, many New Yorkers pointed to the Giants resuming play as a symbol of their city moving on. The Yankees World Series appearance paralleled New York rising from the ashes.

New Orleans is having quite a different experience. In the aftermath of the greatest American tragedy of my lifetime New Orleans Saints owner, Tom Benson, is planning to move the team to greener pastures. There have long been rumblings that Benson wished to move the Saints, who have been a part of New Orleans since their founding in 1967, wished to relocate. Now, with the disaster, he is expected to invoke an "act of God clause" to void the Saints lease.

God gets blamed for a lot of things, the crusades, Pat Robertson, and the 69 World Series to name some of the worst, but he's blameless on this one. This one is all about one man's greed.

Many of us in Baltimore remember the sight of Mayflower moving vans stealing our beloved Colts. That is a wound that, for many, will never fully heal. This week marked the 10th anniversary of Art Modell announcing the theft of the Browns. Both of those events hurt, but neither came at a time like this, with a city struggling for its life.

Many will say that football is business and that's what businesses do. Well, obviously I think businesses shouldn't do that, but football is different. It's not just a business. The NFL, while not officially enjoying Anti-Trust Exempt status like Major League Baseball, gets cut quite allot of slack by We The People, slack that wouldn't be cut for "just a business." If the NFL and other major sports want the perks of that special place they've got, they should have to pay the cost.

Part of that cost is place loyalty. What would the Saints be without New Orleans? If the NFL wants to look like it has a heart (after all, it is a non-profit believe it or not), they've got to stop this move. Whatever it takes. If the NFL won’t do it, Senate better scare the bejesus out of 'em! Bring them in for a little chat about anti-trust violations; see if they still want to play hardball.

I don't have allot of hope that that will happen, but I can say this, if the Saints move, the NFL will not see dollar one from me, and I hope some of you as well.

S.O.L.
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