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League officials descend on the Crescent City for annual meetings

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 27: New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 27, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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As the NFLPA* continues with their annual meetings in Marco Island, Florida, the NFL annual meetings launch today in New Orleans.

Saints owner Tom Benson is hosting the meetings, and he recently spoke to the New Orleans Times-Picayune regarding various issues relating to his team and the current labor dispute.

For starters, Benson won’t be laying anyone off or taking away anyone’s salary during the lockout. “This is pretty much business as usual for us,” Benson said. “I don’t want our employees to feel sorry for themselves during this period of time. So we’re not laying anybody off, and we’re not cutting anybody’s pay.”

Benson echoed the views of most owners regarding the decision of the NFLPA* to decertify and sue.

“Nobody wins in the courtroom, as far as I’m concerned,” Benson said. “We’ve got to just sit down and work this out together and what’s good for this game and the future of this game. If it costs so much to do business, then you’ve got to raise prices more. We’ve got to stabilize this thing across the board, and you’ve got to hold your costs someplace. And this is what we’re trying to do.”

But Benson has no hard feelings against one of the leaders of the courtroom effort -- who happens to also be Benson’s franchise quarterback. “With regard to Drew [Brees], I have tremendous respect for Drew and just like everything he does he does passionately,” Benson said. “Like he performs on the field is like how he performs as a member of the executive board of the union. But at the end of the day, no player or owner or coach or [G.M.] is above our league and the history of our league. That is why I am confident he will be back playing football for our fans.”

And, in Benson’s view, the Saints and Brees will be playing very, very well.

“We’re going to win the Super Bowl next year,” Benson said.

Hopefully, he’ll have a chance to be proven right -- or wrong.