I know we’re seven years removed from the devastation that was Hurricane Katrina, but for the New Orleans Saints, when it rains, it monsoons.
Following the Bountygate scandal – for which team personnel including head coach Sean Payton were suspended, and player suspensions are still due to be handed down, perhaps this week – comes word of a possible Spygate sequel, with allegations that general manager Mickey Loomis had arranged for an electronic device, installed by previous GM Randy Mueller, for the purpose of listening in on other Saints coaching staff members, to be rigged so that Loomis could be able to eavesdrop on opposing coaches during games played at the Superdome.
This was first reported Monday afternoon by ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” unit. Naturally, not only are the Saints denying these allegations, of which ESPN cites “sources familiar with Saints game-day operations”, the team is planning to sue the network.
According to New Orleans television station WWL – not to be confused with WWL, as in the Worldwide Leader, ESPN – Saints vice president of communications Greg Bensel deems the story “1000 percent false” and “completely inaccurate.” Bensel claims ESPN “refused… to provide us evidence to support their allegations.” With that, the Saints are now considering “all legal recourse regarding these false allegations.”
Louisiana attorney Jim Letten was quoted in the ESPN report as being informed of the allegations on Friday and is “not at liberty to comment” on this situation.
Sources claim that while Loomis watched Saints games at a suite in the Superdome, he used an earpiece to listen to communications from opposing coaches during games, manipulating a switch to toggle between offensive coaches for whomever the Saints’ opponent was that day, or their defensive coaches. This allegedly went on for just three seasons, between 2002 and 2004, during which, as ESPN points out, the Saints had a .500 record at the Superdome, as well a similar overall record (25-23) for those three seasons. The technology was rendered inoperable as a result of Hurricane Katrina, and in the ensuing season, in which the Saints would not be able to play a game at the Superdome for the entire season, the Saints went 3-13.
While Loomis may evade possible criminal prosecution since the statute of limitations following the most recent alleged offense falls outside the maximum five year window, it’s certain that the NFL could issue a stern punishment on top of the eight-game suspension he’s scheduled to serve for his role in Bountygate.
Spygate, you may recall, was the name given to the New England Patriots’ signal-videotaping scandal back in 2007; it cost them $750,000 in fines and a first-round draft pick.
If what I am dubbing “Spygate South” is proven, on top of Bountygate… maybe they should be forced to forfeit their Super Bowl championship.
But back to the lede in this particular post: Go ahead and sue ESPN, Saints. And while you’re at it, ask them about that “Deep Waters” headline they churned out when the first rumblings of Bountygate emerged.
Let’s take it one step at a time: let’s prove these allegations against Mickey Loomis first. If he’s found not guilty, then feel free to throw all the slander lawsuits you want at the Worldwide Leader – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
As much as I personally prefer NFL Network when it comes to football news, I have to say, for breaking a story of this magnitude, with ramifications that could possibly set a franchise back for years, it feels good to be ESPN.
Not so much if you’re a Saints fan.
Or if you’re Mickey Loomis.
Grab your umbrella.
Be sure to read SportsRantz’ Anthony DiMoro’s take on the Mickey Loomis eavesdropping allegations.