Day after fall, Saints owner Tom Benson heading home from Atlanta _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees celebrates winning a home run derby at Zephyr Field during the Ben Grubbs Foundation Charity Softball Game Wednesday.

After suffering a fall at an NFL meeting, hitting his head, being hospitalized, and spending the night in Atlanta on Tuesday, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson headed home Wednesday “healthy,” team spokesman Greg Bensel said via Twitter.

“Wheels up after a night in Atlanta- heading back to New Orleans with a healthy Tom Benson,” Bensel wrote in his tweet. “He thanks everyone for their thoughts.”

Benson tripped coming off a podium in a conference room at Atlanta’s Ritz-Carlton Buckhead hotel, where the vote that awarded Super Bowl LII to Minneapolis on Tuesday afternoon occurred. He was speaking to his fellow NFL owners in support of New Orleans’ unsuccessful bid to host the Super Bowl that will be held in 2018.

Benson was taken from the meetings by ambulance to a hospital, where Bensel had said the Saints owner was being examined for concussion symptoms before flying back to New Orleans.

For a few moments, Benson’s attendance at Tuesday’s meeting was in doubt. He missed a breakfast in the morning with other NFL owners where he would have the chance to solicit votes on behalf of New Orleans’ bid to host Super Bowl LII.

Doctors who on May 9 performed a surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in Benson’s knee instructed him to stay at home until the last possible moment and to travel only if he felt well. So Benson obeyed their orders and waited until later in the day to decide whether to go to the meetings, Bensel said.

Benson arrived in Atlanta in time to give a 5-minute address to his peers after New Orleans’ bid committee delivered a presentation to the league’s owners. It was reported that Benson was using a walker to move around in the hotel before he fell.

Rita Benson LeBlanc, Benson’s granddaughter as well as the Saints’ co-owner and vice chairwoman of the board, went to the 8 a.m. league owners’ breakfast and worked the room for votes in favor of New Orleans’ bid for the 2018 Super Bowl. She was accompanied by team President Dennis Lauscha.

LeBlanc had said she was ready to give the 5-minute address after the New Orleans bid committee’s presentation in case her grandfather didn’t make it to Atlanta. But she said she knew her grandfather would do anything necessary to be at the meeting because he considered Super Bowl LII important for his legacy.

It would’ve marked a record 11th Super Bowl in New Orleans and eighth at the building now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Nonetheless, after his tumble and New Orleans’ defeat was announced, Benson was gracious in a released statement.

He congratulated Minneapolis and said, in part, “I want to thank ... everyone from our great city and state that worked tirelessly to put forth the best Super Bowl bid I have ever been a part of. We will be back in the mix to get another Super Bowl to New Orleans soon.

“As we stated in our presentation, New Orleans is the perfect Super Bowl city.”


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter @RVargasAdvocate.