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TallySaint 09-03-2005 03:57 PM

Saints Arrive in San Antonio
Saints arrive in San Antonio
Officials tell families to consider enrolling children in local schools

Web Posted: 09/03/2005 12:00 AM CDT

Mike Finger
San Antonio Express-News Staff Writer

As an undrafted rookie, Keron Henry isn't the sort to take much for granted. So as his Saints teammates spent part of the summer shopping for houses and lining up places to rent in and around New Orleans, Henry put his own residential search off until he could be more certain he'd need it.

"I was just starting to think about getting a place," Henry said Friday. "I would have done it in the next couple of weeks."

Henry, of course, knows he was one of the lucky ones. Only his plans were destroyed.

With Hurricane Katrina having ripped through New Orleans, leaving the city uninhabitable for citizens and NFL teams alike, Henry and the Saints were trying to balance the horror of the tragedy, the loss of many of their own homes and the pales-in-comparison prospect of playing an entire season on the road.

The closest they'll have to a home for the foreseeable future is a downtown San Antonio hotel. Most of the players arrived at their new headquarters on buses at 5:30 Friday morning, about six hours after a 13-6 preseason loss to the Oakland Raiders in California.

Many of the Saints players and staffers had family members with them by Friday afternoon. And while just about everyone found it difficult to focus on football, those who had called New Orleans home for many years were particularly shaken.

"There are guys who had a lot invested in that city, in terms of time and friends and people," said third-year tight end Zachary Hilton, who grew up in Maryland. "All of us took it hard, but I think some of those guys took a little harder."

The Saints also are struggling to get a clear picture of what the future holds for the team. They will play their season opener in Carolina on Sept. 11, and on Friday the league announced that their home opener against the New York Giants, scheduled for Sept. 18, will be moved to East Rutherford, N.J.

But just because there aren't any games planned at the Alamodome doesn't mean the Saints won't be in San Antonio for a while. Due to the hotel rooms and practice facilities available, the Saints could use the city as a home base all season long.

Already on Friday, there were signs pointing to a possible extended stay. A team of about eight Saints staffers went to the team's offices and training facility in Metairie, La., near New Orleans to load three 40-foot trucks with computers, athletic equipment and other supplies to bring back to San Antonio. Players who brought families with them were told to at least consider enrolling children in area schools.

Thus far, though, the only thing the Saints know for sure is that they will stay in their hotel and hold practices at the SASD Spring Sports Complex until they leave for Carolina next Saturday. Whether or not they return here has not been decided.

"They told us this was the best place for us to be right now," Henry said. "But we have no idea how long we're going to be here."

Story continues...


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