The New Orleans Saints could be facing an explosive new scandal, one that has nothing to do with bounties.
According to ESPN, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis had a device in his Superdome suite that allowed him to listen in on the game-day communications of opposing coaching staffs and did so in his first three seasons in New Orleans — 2002-04 — before the device was dismantled in 2005.
The Saints have denied that they eavesdropped, with spokesman Greg Bensel saying the report is “1,000% false.”
Bensel also provided a quote from Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who has worked with Loomis as a Saints advisor for the past decade and watches games from the GM’s suite.
“This is completely false,” Kennedy said. “I have sat with Mickey for years, for multiple games and I can say that when Mickey gets up to go walk around during breaks or halftime, I put his earpiece in... it is WWL-AM radio... I know this, because I have heard. Plain and simple.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was unaware of the allegations.
The league has already suspended Loomis for the first eight games this season for his role in the Saints’ pay-for-performance bounty scandal
ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” cites “sources familiar with Saints game-day operations” in the story. According to ProFootballTalk.com, authorities are investigating, with the office of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana acknowledging it learned of the allegations Friday and informed the local FBI office.
According to the report. when Loomis took his seat during home games, he was able to plug an earpiece into a jack that was under the desk in front of him. With the earpiece in place, he could toggle back and forth with a switch, listening to the game-day communications of either the offensive or defensive coaches.
The report also said Loomis also had a metal box under the desk that contained two belt packs similar to those worn on the waists of NFL head coaches during games. The packs powered the listening device available to Loomis, ESPN said, which was hard-wired to the audio feed of the opposing coaches.
Shortly after ESPN released the story, one of its own employees, former Colts General Manager Bill Polian, questioned the logic of the report.
“There’s something missing here,” Polian told the network. “I don’t know what kind of competitive advantage you could get. Mickey would have to know the verbiage of every other opposing team in order to translate, and then he would have to do it instantly and find some way to communicate with his coaching staff, and get it down to the field in time to be useful. That would be very difficult to do, in my opinion.”