The New Orleans Saints have been here before.
Unfortunately, they are seasoned crisis managers, unfortunate experts in dealing with life changing storms like Hurricane Ida.
Several members of the organization, including General Manager Mickey Loomis, oversaw the evacuation and year-round relocation of all football operations to San Antonio in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Saints also temporarily moved to San Antonio, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati before the tropical storm to deal with threats in 2004, 2008, and 2012.
The Saints evacuated to Dallas are pending like everyone else.
The need to evacuate and relocate to Dallas for Hurricane Ida could derail and disorient another NFL team. But not the saints and their battle-hardened employees in football.
“We went through that,” said Saints manager Sean Payton. “We know what to expect.”
Over the years the Saints have established storm contingency plans for such emergencies. You know firsthand that tropical storms are part of life in the south of the Gulf. Through trial and error, they have developed best practices and mastered the evacuation and relocation process.
When Ida targeted Crescent City, no one on Airline Drive panicked. Instead, the Saints officials rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
The Caesars Superdome appears to have weathered Hurricane Ida without major structural damage, said Doug Thornton, vice president of St.
The Saints began preparing a contingency plan Thursday when forecasters began forecasting Ida’s potential landing in Louisiana. Team officials hastily worked the phones to secure a possible location with the practice fields, meeting rooms, and hotel room inventory.
Indianapolis was unavailable because of a Guns N ‘Roses concert at Lucas Oil Stadium. Limited hotel room capacity precluded the Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, where the team held a training camp from 2014-2016. Oxnard, California has been closed due to removal.
The Metroplex Dallas-Fort Worth proved to be the perfect location due to its proximity, hotel room capacity, and the availability of the AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington, Texas thanks to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
By Saturday evening, more than 250 players, coaches, football team employees and their families boarded two commercial planes for the short flight to Dallas from the approaching Ida. A couple of players decided to drive to Dallas because they couldn’t find carers for their dogs and refused to leave them behind.
The New Orleans Saints had to cancel the preseason final on Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals. As a result, several players are on the verge of ma …
“As a company, we’ve done this so many times that we’ve reduced it to an extraordinary approach,” said Greg Bensel, Saints’ longtime executive vice president of communications. “Everyone knows their roles. We have go-to cities and a go-to plan for dealing with families. It really just depends on activating the plan. “
A makeshift football operation is being set up at the downtown Dallas hotel that the Saints call home this week. The hotel’s fitness area doubles as a weight room. A small ballroom as a training room for the team’s medical staff. Team meetings take place in the larger ballrooms of the hotel.
Olympic strength training sessions are planned at the nearby Southern Methodist University gym.
The entire operation was arranged and set up in a breathtaking time span of 72 hours.
“I’ve had the opportunity to go through this several times with Mickey and we’re happy with it,” said Payton. “You have obviously learned through experience and know what you need in terms of your video, your meeting rooms, your field service, your hotel and the like.”
The extra week built into this season’s NFL schedule is beneficial to the Saints. It gives the team officials additional time to strategize and work out a second relocation plan ahead of the scheduled start of the regular season on September 12 against the Green Bay Packers. After training on Tuesday and Wednesday, the players have a scheduled four-day break before meeting again on Monday to begin prep work for the Packers. In all likelihood, these game week preps will be conducted at a different remote location and not at the team’s Metairie training complex.
“We are like everyone else,” said Bensel. “If there is no electricity, running water, schools, or health care, it makes no sense for our players and coaches and their families to go back (to New Orleans). The good thing about having to do this so often is that we know that we have to react and adapt. “
Nobody can be heard better during operation than Payton. Over the years he has learned to accept adversity. When properly managed, he truly believes that crises like these can shake up players and coaches and bring them closer together. In a nonsensical way, Ida could form this Saints team instead of breaking it.
“There’s something about the challenge that I kind of like,” said Payton. “I don’t like to be out of place and when players are not at home or something like that. … But when you’ve done that a few times … you’re a bit more focused when something like this happens, instead of less. “
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