May 9, 2002

Mueller Fired, Benson Assumes Control

The Saints terminated the contract of general manager Randy Mueller Thursday.

"It's been in the works for a long time," said Saints owner Tom Benson Thursday afternoon at a press conference. Benson, 74, has for the short term assumed the role of general manager. He will be aided by other decision makers with the team, such as assistant general manager Charles Bailey, football administration director Mickey Loomis, and college scouting director Rick Thompson.

Mueller was entering the final year of a three-year contract that paid him in the lower ranks of all NFL executives.

Benson answered questions from the media at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

"I hope Jim Haslett is here for a long time," Benson added when asked about the future of the Saints head coach, who was close friends with Mueller.

Benson stated in a press conference this afternoon that Mueller's management that the decision "had nothing to do with money, it was the management style," and that the decision was not made "overnight." The final decision was made in the past few days.

"He wanted to manage things in a different way than I wanted to manage things," said Benson about Mueller.

Benson stated that the organization's front office could take on a completely different look in the future: "We'll have different kind of structure. We'll take a look at Charles Bailey but I don't even know if we'll have a general manager as a position.

"I talked to some key members of the organization today, I've had private conversations with those people... If necessary we will go on the outside but I hope we have the talent inside the organization. I think we do. My style of management will be more open, with more people maybe involved and with more input.

"I think this will be a big improvement, and I think that the fans will know that and we will move forward," said Benson.

Mueller, who had talked to the Atlanta Falcons earlier this offseason about their general manager position, may be taking the Falcons up on their offer. Today, Falcons general manager Harold Richardson quit, citing that he was looking for opportunities elsewhere in the NFL. The Falcons had been looking to add Mueller as a vice president/general manager, creating a new position.

Mueller was the 2000 NFL Executive of the Year after a free agency haul that led the team to its first playoff victory in franchise history.

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