Has any NFL team has faced more off-season flack than the New Orleans Saints? The latest news revealed Monday by ESPN could ultimately prove to be the team’s lowest point, trumping the pay-for-hit scandal that already has the franchise in hot water. According to the network, Saints GM Mickey Loomis eavesdropped on opposing coaches during Saints home games for parts of the 2002 season, and all of 2003 and 2004. Loomis allegedly used “an electronic device in his Superdome suite that had been secretly re-wired to enable him to eavesdrop on visiting coaching staffs.” Loomis and the Saints have already spoken out, denying the allegations.
Sports and scandal have gone hand-in-hand since the Chicago White Sox willingly blew the 1919 World Series. But, if the claims against Loomis are true, it’s hard to find a place to make a historical comparison. Tactics like this lead to an unnatural advantage, and even if insider information never yielded results (the Saints fielded some awful teams despite the alleged cheating), the fact that the very head of scouting and talent evaluation was the person making such decisions will leave a red mark on the organization. Details will trickle out over the coming weeks but whatever surfaces, the New Orleans Saints – a team America came to rally behind following its post-Katrina success – will find it tough to rebound from the latest allegations.