Remember that ESPN report earlier this year that alleged the New Orleans Saints, on top of Bountygate, would be dealing with their own Spygate scandal?
Well, there’s a major update on this – and if ESPN were to give it a headline, it would probably be that their own allegations didn’t hold water.
“There is no corroborating evidence of fact,” announced Louisiana State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson after the conclusion of an investigation that lasted about four months, or about as long as an NFL regular season (or, if you prefer, a Sean Payton suspension).
“This has been an intensive investigation,” Edmondon continued, “and after numerous interviews, we have determined that there is no evidence that state laws have been violated.”
Note that these findings only apply to an investigation by the State Police, and not that of the FBI, whose own investigation of allegations that Saints general manager Mickey Loomis had eavesdropped on opposing coaches’ sideline conversations via an earpiece attached to a reformatted phone system – allegations that ESPN attributes to anonymous sources – is still pending.
“I would caution that we are not in a position to affirm or comment on the status or existence of any federal investigation,” Edmonson warned. “Today’s release pertains only to the State Police inquiry.”
Days after ESPN released these allegations, Loomis – still due to serve an eight-game suspension as a result of Bountygate – appeared on ProFootballTalk’s Internet radio show to argue that not only was ESPN’s report “ludicrous,” but that he had used the aforementioned earpiece located in his suite at the Superdome to listen to the radio broadcast of the Saints game that would be played on game day. “Even then, I rarely [did],” Loomis recalled. He also contended that the earpiece was previously hooked up to Saints coaches’ headsets, but “I couldn’t understand what was being said particularly because of the static.” The earpiece reconfiguration to a feed of Saints flagship station WWL had taken place in the middle of the 2002 season, according to Loomis. (Back in 2002, WWL was not simulcasting on FM as they are today, which meant anyone listening on the AM band would have dealt with static, anyway.)
The Saints compiled a .500 record during the 2002-04 seasons when the alleged eavesdropping system had been in place; it was destroyed in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina.
This is a story with an ironic twist to it on a sports media and journalism standpoint: Back when this report broke (mostly on ESPN, naturally) I observed that NFL Network did not address the issue in their edition of “Total Access” on the day the news unfolded, taking an entire day to report it on their own broadcast.
I kid you not: I first learned of this latest development in this ordeal just after 7 PM ET, via the bottom-of-the-screen ticker on, you guessed it, NFL Network’s “Total Access.” The news broke roughly four hours before airtime.
Now that’s progress.