New Orleans Saints general manager said he did not eavesdrop
POSTED: Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 6:30pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 3, 2012 - 5:24pm
NEW ORLEANS, LA (CNN) — The general manager for the New Orleans Saints said Thursday he has never listened in on an opposing team's communications, or asked to have the capability.
Allegations that he had the ability to eavesdrop on coaches for nearly three seasons were not true, Mickey Loomis told reporters. "I have a clear conscience."
"In my 29 years in the NFL, I have never listened to an opposing team's communications," Loomis said. "I have never asked for the capability to listen to an opposing team's communications. I have never inquired as to the possibility of listening in on an opposing team's communications. And I have never been aware of any capability to listen in on an opposing team's communications at the Superdome or any NFL stadium."
Louisiana State Police have joined the FBI in looking into the matter. "All we have now are allegations of illegal use of wiretapping and eavesdropping," state police Superintendent Mike Edmonson said earlier this week.
Loomis said he did not know who made the eavesdropping claim. "I'm angry about it," he said.
ESPN reported this week that the Saints general manager had a device in his Superdome suite that was wired to allow him to hear members of the opposing coaching staff from 2002 to 2004.
The stadium suffered severe damage in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ripped through the city.
Citing anonymous sources, the report said it could not determine for certain whether Loomis ever used the system.
On Monday, Saints spokesman Greg Bensel called the report "1,000% 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," he said.
Jim Haslett, former Saints coach and current defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, similarly cast doubt on the ESPN report.
"At no time during my tenure as head coach with the New Orleans Saints did Mickey and I discuss monitoring opposing team coach's communication, nor did I have any knowledge of this. To my knowledge this concept was never discussed or utilized," he said in a statement.
The statute of limitations for wiretapping crimes is typically five years, according to CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
When asked how that fact might figure into the investigation, Edmonson said, "Let's find out that if the allegations are factual and if state law has been compromised first. Then it will be up to the U.S. attorney or district attorney to review the matter."
A spokesman for the National Football League said Monday that the league had no prior knowledge of the wiretapping accusations, which come on the heels of another Saints scandal.
This month, the NFL upheld penalties it imposed against the Saints and members of its coaching staff for the team's bounty program.
The unprecedented punishment was handed down in March after an NFL investigation found that the team had an "active bounty program" during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. During this time, players were purportedly offered payments if they managed to hurt opposing players and knock them out of a game.
The stiffest penalty handed down -- an indefinite ban -- was given to Gregg Williams, the Saints defensive coordinator who, over the offseason, moved to take that same position with the St. Louis Rams. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012-13 season. Loomis was suspended without pay for the season's first eight regular-season games, while Vitt was suspended without pay for the first six regular-season games.
The team was also fined $500,000 and ordered to forfeit its second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013, the NFL has said.
Loomis said Thursday the team respects the NFL's decision on the bounty program
"It is our job to move forward. Player safety is a paramount issue for the league and the New Orleans Saints."
-- CNN's Rick Martin contributed to this report.