- Dec 29, 2007
- Reaction score
Our only Hope for the Change We Desperately Need
All Rita jokes/feelings aside, let's face it, there is definitely an issue with ownership.
Tom Benson is old, very old, and his wife doesn't strike me as someone who has what it takes to be a successful NFL owner. The people currently in charge seem to not be able to put a successful product on the field, and no one is held accountable outside people "not in the family" (read: Rob Ryan).
But those who were around Rita behind the scenes say Benson always harbored doubts about his granddaughter.
Two people who served as executive assistants to Rita said they spent a lot of time answering the same question from Benson: “Is Rita here in the office?”
The answer, both said, was often “no.”
Sometimes, she was on vacation; other times she was just taking midday excursions away from the team’s administrative complex, where her grandfather is a fixture.
“I got the impression from Tom Benson that he was looking for her constantly,” said one of the assistants, who, like the other, voluntarily left her post as Rita’s aide after a relatively short time. “And he couldn’t (ever) find her.”
Others who knew Rita well said that even when she was present, she wasn’t always giving her full attention to the task at hand. On at least one occasion, she crouched in a corner reading a book during a business meeting, a friend close to Benson’s family said. She often texted or fiddled with her phone in the middle of important conversations.
She also got a reputation for taking an extraordinarily long time to complete straightforward tasks, such as approving the design of season tickets or personalized license plates, aggravating those around her.
On one occasion, a former aide said, she was unimpressed with how a small job had been performed by a contractor. When she learned that her assistant had already paid the bill, she tore into the aide.
After an outburst like that, the aides both said it wasn’t uncommon to get a private apology from another Saints executive who witnessed the scene and was embarrassed.
Both of the former assistants who spoke with The Advocate said Rita’s reputation was not unlike that of Miranda Priestly, the villainous fictional magazine editor and central character in “The Devil Wears Prada.” It’s one reason her assistants came and departed as often as they did.
Though the position was called executive assistant, “You were treated like you were there to serve her,” said one of her former aides. And that did not win her much loyalty. Some estimate she had 30 assistants over six years.
It all hit a low point when Tom Benson forced her to take an administrative leave for a period of months in 2012, an episode the club tried to keep quiet. The precise reasons for the leave, which the Saints never publicly acknowledged, were not made clear.
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