(If the Saints skip out on New Orleans, will Austin’s Shoal Creek Saloon continue to display a giant Saints helmet on their roof? More importantly, will this impact their chicken fried steak in any way?)

From ESPN.com

Saints owner Tom Benson declared this week that nothing will be decided on the franchise’s future until after the season. But ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that, based on information from key league sources, the team has probably played its last game in New Orleans.

According to Mortensen, San Antonio is a likely home for 2006 and Los Angeles is the preferred destination beyond that. The NFL could still include New Orleans as a Super Bowl site when the city is reconstructed, and expansion might even be a possibility, but that’s 10 to 15 years away.

Writes Ira Kaplan,

My first reaction was disbelief. But then I thought some more. For years, I have been against New York and New Jersey providing public money to build stadiums, citing studies (studies that I can be no more specific about than I just have been, but they’re out there, you know they’re out there) that prove that a sports franchise does little or nothing to improve the economic quality of life of those in its vicinity. And although it’s never appeared that any sports franchise was willing to take those studies seriously, perhaps at long last we’ve found the team that will. Ownership of the New Orleans Saints, cognizant of the fact that returning to New Orleans will only hinder the recovery of the city, is prepared to take the colossal public relations hit and move away. I don’t know about you, but I have a new favorite team.