New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson made it clear Sunday that he has no plans to sell the NFL team or the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans after The Times-Picayune newspaper publicly called for him to sell both franchises in a commentary.
Benson has been involved in a prolonged legal dispute with his estranged daughter and grandchildren since announcing in January that his wife Gayle will take over control of the franchise in the event of his death. He also reportedly has been dealing with a decline in his mental health.
The column by Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune called for Benson to end the bitter legal battle as a suggested New Year's resolution. Duncan wrote it is in the best interests of both franchises that the 88-year-old Benson sell the clubs.
"I will repeat today as I did yesterday to the reporter," Benson said in a statement. "I am not selling either team. That is not in my makeup. I am not retiring or stepping aside, while I do appreciate all of the sincere concern for my health.
"The legacy of both these teams are still yet to be written and my legacy can be discussed when I am long gone, which by the way is not that important to me right now. What is important to me is getting both our teams back to winning and challenging for championships. That is what our fans want most, and no one is more keenly aware of the urgency of that objective than me.
"We have had tremendous success both on and off the field and remain model franchises in both leagues, something I am very proud of."
Benson originally planned to give ownership to his daughter Renee and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc. However, the decision to reverse course earlier this year and hand the team over to third wife Gayle Benson -- whom he married in 2004 -- prompted a slew of legal battles.
Lawyers for Renee Benson have argued that shares of the team can't be removed from the family trust. They also sued Tom Benson in civil court, claiming he was no longer mentally competent to run the two teams. A judge ruled in favor of Tom Benson.
Meanwhile, Benson remains adamant that giving control of the clubs to his wife is the best move for both franchises.
"I have always been and continue to be in complete control of our teams, and that is not in dispute," Benson said in his statement. "Furthermore, my plan to transfer complete control to Gayle is unassailable and designed to provide the long-term stability and resources that all franchises need to produce consistently winning teams.
"It is our determined objective that our fans, our city, our state, and our entire region will continue to join in and benefit from our success. Selling these teams is not part of a solution, rather it is detrimental to those goals."