As if setting bounties on other players wasn’t enough, now they got caught cheating worse than the Patriots:
NEW ORLEANS — A joint Louisiana state police and FBI task force is investigating allegations that the New Orleans Saints set up general manager Mickey Loomis’ booth in the Superdome so he could listen in on opposing coaches.
State police Col. Mike Edmonson confirmed the joint effort Tuesday after discussing the matter with Dave Welker, special agent in charge at the FBI’s New Orleans field office.
“I thought that was an excellent opportunity to share resources to see if federal or state wiretapping laws were in fact broken,” Edmonson said by phone from Baton Rouge. “It’s important for the public to know these are allegations at this point. We will thoroughly, expeditiously, but fairly look into whether any laws have been broken. If they have, we’ll sit down with the district attorney in that area to determine how to proceed.”
Loomis and the Saints have called the allegations “1000 percent false,” and have said they are reviewing legal recourse following an ESPN “Outside The Lines” report Monday in which anonymous sources described a setup that would have allowed the general manager to eavesdrop on opponents from 2002 to 2004. ESPN could not verify the system was used.
Still, the alleged actions would violate NFL rules, if not state and federal laws.
Edmonson said he is aware that statutes of limitations — six years under state wiretapping laws — may hinder prosecution but added, “Let’s find out if any laws have been broken first, and that’s what we’re doing right now. It’s up to us to find out facts and get with the district attorney, who will then decide” if the time to prosecute has passed.
If these allegations are true, then it is obvious that this whole organization is corrupt. The only solution is to find new owners, fire the management, jail time for those involved, vacate all of their victories during these time periods, and take the top 3 draft picks for the same amount of years that they were wire tapping and paying out bounties. This sort of behavior is felonious and has no place in professional sports.
On Monday, “Outside The Lines” reported that the listening device was first installed in the general manager’s suite in 2000, when Loomis’ predecessor, Randy Mueller, served as Saints GM. At that time, according to sources, Mueller had the ability to use the device to monitor only the game-day communications of the Saints’ coaching staff, not the opposing coaches. Mueller, now a senior executive with the San Diego Chargers (he also was an ESPN.com NFL analyst from 2002 to ’05), declined to comment when contacted by “Outside the Lines.”
After the transition from Mueller to Loomis, the electronic device was re-wired to listen only to opposing coaches and could no longer be used to listen to any game-day communications between members of the Saints’ coaching staff, one source said.
“There was a switch, and the switch accessed offense and defense,” said the source. “When Randy was there, it was the Saints offense or defense, and when Mickey was there it changed over so it was the visiting offense or defense,” the source said.
Sources said Loomis could plug an earpiece into a jack that was under the desk in front of him and toggle back and forth with a switch that he controlled, enabling him to listen to the game-day communications of either the opposing offensive or defensive coaches.
Also underneath the desk in front of Loomis, said the sources, was a metal box that contained two belt packs similar to those worn around the waists of NFL head coaches during games. The packs powered the listening device available to Loomis, which was, according to sources, hard-wired to the audio feed of the opposing coaches.
The wiring setup was disabled sometime in September 2005 in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.
Aside from potential legal ramifications, under Article No. 9 of the Constitution and Bylaws of the NFL, which lists “Prohibited Conduct,” the league specifically bans the use of “videotape machines, telephone tapping or bugging devices, or any other form of electronic device that might aid a team during the playing of a game.”
Loomis explained his use of an earpiece and described his game-day setup in the Superdome booth in an emailed statement on Monday afternoon.
He said he has a monitor in his booth that provides the league-issued stats, a small TV with the network broadcast and an earpiece to listen to the local radio broadcast.
“To think I am sitting in there listening and actually … doing something with the offensive and defensive play calls of the opposing teams makes this story and the unnamed sources that provided the false information that much more less credible,” Loomis’ statement said. “It just didn’t happen.”