Nov 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson smiles during the first quarter of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Saints owner on Sean Payton’s 2022 plans: ‘Who knows?’

New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson doesn’t know if Sean Payton plans to coach in 2022.

“We don’t know. You know, who knows?” Benson told Fox 8 NOLA on Monday. “We’ll find out soon enough, I guess. I don’t think any of us know. But he’ll let us know soon enough.”

NFL Network reported Sunday that Payton had not committed to returning for next season.

Payton, 58, has three years remaining on his contract with New Orleans.

Payton has compiled a 152-89 record since taking over as head coach in 2006, including a 9-8 finish in 2021.

He has guided the Saints to the playoffs nine times, highlighted by a victory in Super Bowl XLIV.

–Field Level Media

Saints, Pelicans owner discloses succession plan, wants teams in New Orleans

Gayle Benson, the owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans, has taken steps to ensure the teams remain in the city after her death.

Benson, who inherited the teams from her late husband, Tom, disclosed the succession plans in a joint report from The Times-Picayune and WVUE-TV. It revealed the plan to sell the Saints and Pelicans to parties who won’t relocate them, then distribute the proceeds to charity.

Per the report, the NFL has OK’d the plan, which is similar to one Ralph Wilson had in place for the Buffalo Bills. Following his 2014 death, the Bills were sold to Terry and Kim Pegula, who are hoping a new stadium can be built in Buffalo.

Gayle Benson was Tom Benson’s third wife and doesn’t have any heirs. Her late husband, who died in 2018, made a private settlement with his daughter and grandchildren to ensure the team stayed in Gayle’s hands, per the report.

“I can’t take it with me,” Benson, 74, said. “God gives us gifts, and this is a gift. I am a steward for this [organization]. And we help other people with it. My wish is to scatter all the good and gifts that God and Tom have given me to this city and community.”

Funds from the sale of the teams would go to charities directly benefiting the New Orleans area. On Aug. 30, Benson launched the Gulf Coast Renewal Fund with a $1 million donation after Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana.

The Saints currently are negotiating a lease extension with the state of Louisiana and the Caesars Superdome. A long-term lease would tie a prospective new owner to the city.

“I want to make sure that we keep the teams here,” Benson added. “I want them to stay in New Orleans forever.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 10, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson looks on prior to kickoff against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Saints/Pelicans owner unhurt after attempted car theft

Gayle Benson, owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, was not injured during an attempted car theft last weekend.

New Orleans police did not identify Benson by name, but Saints and Pelicans spokesman Greg Bensel confirmed the story reported by on Friday.

Benson was inside her vehicle in the city’s Uptown neighborhood at about 2:15 p.m. ET on Saturday when a man got inside and attempted to steal the car. He abandoned the plan after Benson screamed for him to get out, according to the report.

“While she was very shaken at the time, she was unharmed and is doing fine,” Bensel said. “She wanted to send her sincere gratitude to the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department that responded so quickly and professionally. We cannot comment further as this is an active investigation.”

Investigators are searching for a suspect who fled the scene in a white Nissan Titan, according to police.

Police told that the incident is not classified as an attempted carjacking because there’s no evidence the man realized Benson was inside the vehicle. Police did not say where she was sitting in the car.

Benson, 73, became principal owner of the Saints and Pelicans following the death of her husband, Tom Benson, in 2018.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson waves to fans before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Saints, Pelicans owner Benson tests positive for COVID-19

New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson tested positive for the coronavirus and is “progressing well and improving daily” in her recovery, the NFL team announced Friday in a statement.

Benson, 73, was diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last few weeks, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo confirmed Friday. It was not immediately known what symptoms Benson experienced.

“Mrs. Benson did test positive for COVID-19,” the Saints announced in a statement. “She is progressing well and improving daily. She has not missed a daily work call with the Saints and Pelicans staff nor has she missed an NBA or NFL owner call in recent days — she was not hospitalized and is recovering at home in New Orleans. She thanks everyone for their thoughts and prayers.”

Saints coach Sean Payton was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, the first NFL coach known to have contracted the virus.

Three Saints players had tested positive for COVID-19, however all three were believed to have been “false positives.” The players quickly were removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Saints kick off their season at home against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 13.

–Field Level Media