There's another startling report about the New Orleans Saints today, this one coming from ESPN's investigative show "Outside the Lines." It is reporting that Saints general manager Mickey Loomis had an electronic eavesdropping device in his Superdome suite from 2002-04 that allowed him to listen in to the opposing coaches' radio communications in real time -- although what, if anything, Loomis did with that information is unclear.
What is it with the Saints, anyway? After reading the "OTL" report, it's unclear to me whether the Saints really benefited from anything Loomis may have heard (and the Saints strongly deny the report with a number of statements from Loomis and the head coach at the time, Jim Haslett, which is also interesting and casts some doubt on the report). They were 12-12 during those three seasons -- one of those years was the Panthers' Super Bowl year -- and it was before Drew Brees and Sean Payton came along and everything changed.
But the backdrop for this is the Saints' bounty scandal, which has caused Loomis to be suspended the first eight games for the 2012 season and Payton to be suspended the entire year. Player suspensions have yet to be announced, but there will be some. Carolina likely caught a break when it got the Saints in Week 2 of the 2012 season, when some of those suspensions will still be active. (Although 22-27 players participated in the bounty program, no punishments for players have been issued -- they will be forthcoming soon).
If these earpiece allegations are true (Loomis said the earpiece was simply used to listen to the team's radio broadcast), NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is in an interesting position. He has traditionally come down hard on teams that skirt the rules (the Patriots' "Spygate" generated large penalties, too, but not as big as the Saints' bounty scandal). But this also happened close to a decade ago, and there are questions about the statutes of limitations since electronic eavesdropping is a federal offense.
In any case, the Saints are having a horrific offseason -- and to top it off, they haven't re-signed Brees yet either. The "OTL" report is definitely worth a read if you care at all about the NFC South. It's just bizarre, really, if this is true. And if it's not, then ESPN may be the one in for a whole heap of trouble.