New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sharply critical yesterday of Saints owner Tom Benson's reported interest in possibly permanently moving the franchise to San Antonio.
"For them to be openly talking to other cities about moving is disrespectful to the citizens of New Orleans [and] disrespectful to the Saints fans who have hung in with this franchise through 30-something years under very trying times," Nagin said during an appearance in the French Quarter, according to the Associated Press.
The Saints declined to respond. They have been based in San Antonio since being displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. The team has played two of its scheduled home games at the Alamodome in San Antonio and is to play another one there in December. The club's other four scheduled home games are to be played in Baton Rouge, La., beginning on Oct. 30.
A clause in the team's Superdome lease might enable the club to break the lease as soon as next month, and there have been numerous reports that Benson might be interested in moving the team to San Antonio. But NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has said the league wants the Saints, if possible, to be part of the rebuilding process in New Orleans. He pushed for the club to play more games in Louisiana than in San Antonio this season and plans to explore the possibility of having the team play next season's home games in Baton Rouge.
Nagin said that people in the city "want our Saints" but "may not want the owner back," and indicated that he might ask Tagliabue to give New Orleans "the Cleveland plan," referring to the arrangement by which that city retained the Browns name after the team left for Baltimore and later was awarded an expansion franchise.
Griese Out for the Season
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Jon Gruden said yesterday that the team would place quarterback Brian Griese on the injured reserve list, ending his season. Griese will undergo surgery for the knee injury -- reportedly tears of the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament -- that he suffered during last Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins.
The Buccaneers are going with Chris Simms as their new starter and obtained veteran quarterback Tim Rattay in a trade Tuesday with the San Francisco 49ers. . . .
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi practiced, as scheduled, with the New England Patriots yesterday, about eight months after suffering a minor stroke. . . .
The St. Louis Rams will be without quarterback Marc Bulger for a few weeks because of a sprained shoulder. Jamie Martin takes over as the starter. . . . Arizona signed free agent defensive end Antonio Cochran. . . . Seahawks safety Ken Hamlin, severely beaten outside a Seattle nightclub, was moved out of intensive care and into a private room, according to the Herald of Everett (Wash.).
Saints Coach Jim Haslett was fined $20,000 by the league for critical comments he made about the officiating following last Sunday's loss to Atlanta, in which the Falcons were given a second chance at a game-winning field goal by a defensive holding penalty.