First the Bountygate scandal and now ESPN is reporting that New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis had “an electronic device in his Superdome suite that had been secretly re-wired to enable him to eavesdrop on visiting coaching staffs for nearly three NFL seasons.”
Sources familiar with Saints game-day operations told “Outside the Lines” that Loomis, who faces an eight-game suspension from the NFL for his role in the recent bounty scandal, had the ability to secretly listen for most of the 2002 season, his first as general manager of the Saints, and all of the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The sources spoke with “Outside the Lines” under the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from members of the Saints organization.
Sources told “Outside the Lines” 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 only had the ability to use the device to monitor 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 2002-05), 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.
If true, this blows Spygate well out of the water. Mainly because not only is this a NFL rule violation, but it’s also potentially a federal crime.
Saints vice president of communications, Greg Bensel has denied that the allegations are true, but since we know his track record, we won’t take his word for it.
More to come we’re sure.
UPDATE: Bensel and the Saints now threatening legal recourse against ESPN:
“This report is 1000% false, completely inaccurate, we asked ESPN to provide us evidence to support their allegations and they refused. The Team and Mickey are seeking all legal recourse regarding these false allegations.”
This is moving fast. We’ll keep you updated.