Fired from her job as a high-ranking Saints executive, Rita LeBlanc also has lost her spot on two NFL committees, a league source said Thursday.
LeBlanc — the granddaughter of Tom Benson, the owner of the NFL’s Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans — had served on the NFL’s Employee Benefits and International committees.
But the source said that is no longer the case after Benson decided to cut out LeBlanc, her mother Renee Benson and her brother Ryan LeBlanc as his heirs and instead make his third wife, Gayle, the principal heir to his billion-dollar business empire after he dies.
The three spurned heirs then sued Benson in Civil District Court, challenging his actions.
The removal of LeBlanc from the committees could be an indication that in this dispute the NFL supports the wishes of Benson, 87, who purchased the Saints in 1985. Both the NFL and the NBA owners at some point will need to vote on whether to approve Gayle Benson as future owner of the Saints and Pelicans.
The source said the decision to remove LeBlanc from the committees was at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s discretion.
Part of the focus of the International Committee on which LeBlanc served is organizing the NFL games that have been played in London annually.
She had been the chairwoman of the Employee Benefits Committee since at least 2011.
In their suit, the LeBlanc siblings and their mother are seeking to have Benson declared mentally unfit to manage the business interests he holds in Louisiana and Texas. They want Civil District Judge Kern Reese to rule that Benson’s decision to remove them from his succession plans was invalid on the grounds that people around him have manipulated an octogenarian whose physical and mental health have waned.
Benson has countered that he’s physically and mentally fine. He has said in written statements that he fired his relatives as his employees and never wants to speak to them again because they were incompetent and were rude to Gayle for years.
Reese on Tuesday ordered Benson to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before determining how far to let the lawsuit proceed. A three-doctor team to be assembled by Feb. 25 will conduct the evaluation; its findings are due to Reese by March 13.
Daniel Kaplan, of Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily, was the first to publish a report Thursday about LeBlanc’s loss of her NFL committee assignments.