Statement by the owner of the Saints, Gayle Benson

The result of yesterday is still difficult to accept for all of us. I am completely disappointed by the events that led to the result of yesterday's game. Getting to the Super Bowl is incredibly hard to do and requires incredible commitment on the part of a team and the support of your fans. No team should be denied the opportunity to reach the game for the title (or simply win a game) based on the actions or omissions of those in charge of creating a fair and equitable playing field. As is clear to all who saw the game, it is undeniable that our team and our fans were unfairly deprived of that opportunity yesterday. I have been in contact with the NFL regarding yesterday's events and will look for changes in the NFL's policies to ensure that no team or fan base will ever return to a similar position. It is a detriment to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, to the fans that make our game possible. The NFL should always commit to providing the most basic expectations: fairness and integrity.

All our team is humbled and grateful for the support shown by our fans over the course of the season. It has become common for teams to claim they have the "best fans in the NFL." I do not think there is any debate, however, that we really have the most inspiring, committed and pbadionate fans of all professional sports. This is true if you are from New Orleans or part of our family of fans from across the state, region and country.

The truth is that we are more than a team and fans, we are a family. As a family we celebrate together, we support each other and sometimes we suffer together. This past season has been especially meaningful to me when we honored my husband. I can never fully express my appreciation for the way you have all supported me and our team to honor the legacy of Tom Benson. I know he is proud of this team and our fans.

While the way this season ended has left us all frustrated and disappointed, I feel comforted knowing that we will respond to the way our community always responds: with resilience, fierce determination and love for others and for the saints.

I have had many blessings in my life, perhaps the greatest is being born in New Orleans and having the opportunity to be part of the family of the Saints with you. Next season starts now and I can not wait to share it with you again. – Gayle Benson

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