Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis eavesdropped on opposing teams'… (Gerald Herbert / Associated…)
An ESPN report has alleged that New Orleans 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 from 2002 through 2004. The Saints have vigorously denied the report, with team spokesman Greg Bensel calling it "1,000% false."
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss which side they think is telling the truth, the Saints or ESPN's sources. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
I believe ESPN. “Outside the Lines” got tipped on a story, investigated it thoroughly -- it was widely known for weeks that the program was poking around on the Saints -- and produced a richly detailed, eye-opening report.
Is there a possibility there could be some inaccuracies? Of course. That’s always the case with news stories. But the notion that this was made up out of thin air? Not buying it.
As for the Saints, they’ve lost the luxury of saying, “Trust us.” After all, they denied any existence of a bounty program to the NFL; then, after flat lying about it, they had the arrogance to keep doing it.
Know this: If it were ESPN or another media outlet that broke the bounty story, and the NFL didn’t have the Saints dead to rights with email evidence and the like, we’d be hearing the same things about the bounties that we are about the latest story -- it’s a conspiracy, and we’re going to sue you for this horrendous fabrication.
Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun
Given the Saints’ track record on “Bounty-gate,” it’s hard to give them the benefit of the doubt here. We obviously don’t know ESPN’s sources for its story on “Outside The Lines” alleging Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis engaged in wiretapping, but we do know that some in the Saints’ chain of command tried to cover up the bounty system.
Here’s what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune before hearing the Saints’ appeal, an appeal he denied: “We have met with various personnel on the Saints, and for three years they denied that this was going on. It is clear it was going on. That is one of the reasons the punishment was harsh.”
Mickey Loomis and the Saints’ denial of the alleged wiretapping was strong and swift, “This report on ESPN is absolutely false.” We’ll see. The FBI and the Louisiana state police are investigating. With their track record, it’s just hard to believe anything the Saints say right now.
[Updated at 9:52 a.m.:
Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
ESPN is a credible news organization that usually does not get stories wrong. So my inclination is to want to believe their report. But the Saints are denying this story vociferously. If there is guilt, the Saints would likely have said nothing, or as little as possible.
There also is the issue that was raised by ESPN employee Bill Polian: How much could the Saints have gained by spying on opposing assistant coaches? Unless Mickey Loomis knew the language opponents were speaking, there wouldn’t have been much he could do with what he was hearing.
Of course, he could have deciphered opponents’ codes for future games. But even then, he would have to find a way to get the information to his coaches and players almost as soon as he heard it -- no easy task.]
[Updated at 1:09 p.m.:
Mike Berardino, Sun Sentinel
When it comes to credibility, what a flawed matchup we have here.
Should we believe the Saints, who rode Denial River all the way to an unprecedented series of slapdowns from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the wake of Bountygate?
This included, of course, what the league viewed as multiple, flat-out lies from the Saints power structure, including General Manager Mickey Loomis, who is once again in the news for allegedly violating the codes of competition.
Or should we side with ESPN, which allows its “personalities” to cash in via restaurant and soft-drink commercials while letting its top reporters break minute-by-minute, spoon-fed “news” about athletes who share the same legal representation?
The Saints weren’t very good in the years Loomis allegedly rigged the Superdome with Nixonian listening devices, so if he was trying to cheat, he wasn’t trying hard enough.]