History is full of savvy — or unscrupulous — entrepreneurs who have turned profits as a result of tragedy.
New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson seems eager to join that company if last week’s Washington Post story on the team’s potential future relocation to Los Angeles is correct.
According to the report, Benson has made a number of moves in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that hint at an eventual relocation to Los Angeles if New Orleans is unable to support its team.
Benson is not permitted by NFL guidelines to discuss relocation during the season, but NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue denied rumors of such a move.
"I think the reports this week about the long-term landing spot being Los Angeles were nonsensical," Tagliabue said Sunday. "L.A. has been the landing spot for the Indianapolis Colts, the Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks, the Minnesota Vikings and any other number of teams. And the last time I looked, they were all operating in their communities and L.A. is off the radar screen."
An announced crowd of 61,643 attended the Saints’ first game back in their home state Sunday at Louisiana State University’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
Many of those likely turned out to support former LSU coach Nick Saban in his return with the Dolphins. By the fourth quarter of the Saints’ 21-6 loss, many fans had vocally turned on the home team.
New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin echoed the sentiments of many of his constituents in an interview last week.
‘‘Who’s going to buy his tickets? I’m not buying one. . . . I’m not listening to him on the radio. I’m not doing anything with him,’’ Nagin said. ‘‘I’m just appalled.’’
The heat apparently got to Benson Sunday.
After the game Benson lunged at a television crew from New Orleans’ CBS affiliate WWL-TV while the crew was videotaping him leaving the stadium. The tape also reportedly showed Benson responding angrily to a heckler.
An NFL spokesman said Monday the league was unlikely to take action against Benson.
"It appears to be nothing more than a brief, heated exchange with a member of the media that was caught on camera," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press. "It’s not the first time in the world of sports entertainment that something like this has occurred. It was a tough day for the Saints and their fans."
The latter group’s number seems to be dwindling.
The NFC North was anyone’s division until Bears safety Charles Tillman intercepted Jeff Garcia and made like the Burger King on a 22-yard touchdown return that ended Chicago’s 19-13 overtime win over Detroit.
Relying on a stellar defense and generally steady play from rookie quarterback Kyle Orton, the Bears have won three straight to move into first place. Thanks to their sweep of the Lions, they’re essentially up by two games midway through the season.
"This is my third year in the league and it’s my first time in first place," Tillman said. "It’s feeling pretty good. I’m going to savor the moment."
• Joe Vitt: Coaching the Rams while Mike Martz recovers from a heart ailment, Vitt has led his team to two straight wins after a loss to Indianapolis in his debut. Vitt had an angioplasty Monday but was back at work the same day.
• Gates and Gonzalez: In a head-to-head match of the NFL’s top two tight ends, the Chargers’ Antonio Gates had 10 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns and Kansas City’s Tony Gonzalez had seven catches for 97 yards and one score.
• Jake Plummer: The Denver quarterback evened his career touchdown-interception ratio Sunday despite being 24 down in the ledger when he left the Cardinals three seasons ago. The career makeover won’t be complete, though, until the Snake puts together a postseason run of more than one game with the Broncos.
• Daunte Culpepper: Through no fault of his own, the Vikings quarterback added to a miserable season in Minnesota when he was lost for the year and perhaps part of next season with a severe knee injury Sunday. Biggest fantasy bust of 2005? You bet.
• Brett Favre: The Packer quarterback’s Hall of Fame career continues to hit new lows as he struggles to find someone, anyone, to help him. He threw five interceptions in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals and was downright depressing to watch as he botched Dan Marino’s spike play on the team’s final chance to tie the game Sunday.
• Cleveland Browns: By surrendering a game to the previously winless Houston Texans, the Browns take their expansion brother’s place at the bottom of this column.
Indianapolis at New England: The Colts visit Foxboro Stadium — the place where playoff runs go to die — for a Monday night contest against the three-time champs. Indianapolis is undefeated, but many talking heads believe that until it bests New England, it can’t be considered the favorite in the AFC.
THE LAST WORD
"It feels good to be back to doing what I love. Getting this game under my belt meant a lot to me. It was a relief.’’ — Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who made seven tackles in his first game back after his career was threatened by a stroke in February