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SBD/Issue 100/Sports Industrialists
Benson, Irsay Experience Redemption With Super Bowl Appearance
Published February 5, 2010
|Super Bowl Season Brings Redemption
For Saints' Benson (l), Colts' Irsay (r)
MUCH RESPECT: In a sports-section cover story for USA TODAY, Jon Saraceno writes Irsay "has matured into a respected owner who still manages to stand out among his sometimes staid, blueblood brethren." In a world of "starched collars, the rock 'n' roll aficionado and guitar strummer remains mostly a tie-dye guy, at least at heart." Irsay, who is a member of the league's Finance Committee, is "anything but one of those intrusive owners who micromanage teams." Irsay "has transformed the once financially strapped Colts into a model franchise ... with Polian's astute personnel maneuvering," along with "shrewd investments outside football, plus two new stadiums since relocating to Indianapolis" in '84. Forbes valued the Colts "in excess" of $1B, and Irsay is "one of the few owners who own 100% of the team." Colts QB PEYTON MANNING: "Jim is everything you want in an owner. He knows football. He's in the locker room before and after the game to say the team prayer. But he doesn't call plays; he doesn't meddle." Chiefs Chair CLARK HUNT said of Irsay, "When he speaks at owners meetings, everyone listens. Frequently, he has insights the rest of us don't" (USA TODAY, 2/5).
IMAGE REFORM: USA TODAY's Saraceno notes Benson "hasn't always been the life of the Mardi Gras party in New Orleans," as "for years, players grumbled about their owner's frugalness." Benson's popularity "waned when he suggested the Saints could be moved without a new stadium," and it "worsened after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when Benson appeared ready to relocate the franchise." Saints radio analyst and former Saints QB BOBBY HEBERT said Benson "doesn't have the greatest PR skills." But he added of Benson's past struggles, "That's all water under the bridge. When you win, people forget a lot" (USA TODAY, 2/5).