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If Mickey Loomis eavesdropped, Sean Payton may have been one of the victims

Payton_Loomis_76877300_244x183 Getty Images

Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live featured a conversation with Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  During the discussion, a light bulb finally flickered over my toupee-covered head.

If Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis truly used an eavesdropping system to listen to communications involving opposing coaches from 2002 through 2004, one of the teams whose communications would have been intercepted was the Dallas Cowboys, in 2003.

And Saints coach Sean Payton was a member of the Dallas coaching staff in 2003.

Specifically, Payton was the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach.  He coached from the sidelines, not the booth, so anything he was saying to the guys upstairs and anything they were saying to him could have been intercepted.

Again, this assumes that the allegations that Loomis had a system for listening are true.  (No one has alleged yet that Loomis actually used the system.)

If it happened, maybe Payton wasn’t really a victim.  Maybe Loomis was listening to get an idea of the guys who could and couldn’t perform well under duress — and maybe Loomis liked enough what he heard to put Payton in play to become the next head coach of the Saints, in 2006.

Frankly, that explanation makes a lot more sense that the notion that Loomis was, within the 40 seconds before the snap, listening to what was being said by the opposing coaches, making sense of what it meant, and then communicating that information to someone on the coaching staff who would interpret it and relay it to the coaches on the sidelines and then the players on the field in whatever time remained until the ball was hiked.

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44 Responses to “If Mickey Loomis eavesdropped, Sean Payton may have been one of the victims”
  1. hairpie says: Apr 24, 2012 12:57 PM

    Awesome picture! Just a couple fellas on vacation!!

  2. feck12a says: Apr 24, 2012 12:59 PM

    I assure you there was no eavesdropping!
    Richard M. Nixon

  3. dvdman123 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:00 PM

    It sounds like even Florio finds this accusation amusing like probably everyone else except possibly ESPN employees but even Mike & Mike sounded suspect of the allegations this morning. Anyway if these allegations turn out to be another Warren Sapp (see Shockey) type story will ESPN fire the guy who wrote it?

  4. bpjensen says: Apr 24, 2012 1:03 PM

    I have no idea if these allegations are true or not, and will probably never know.

    However, why does everyone focus solely on the impracticality of Loomis interpreting play calls and relaying them to his staff?

    Could he not have simply focused on communications like who was injured, the extent of injury, whether the player would return, how or who the opposing offense/defense was going to attack, etc. Any of these could provide solid information and are all easily understandable and relayed.

  5. justasecond1 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:03 PM

    All I know is the phrase” Wwhen it rains it pours, really does apply to the Saints.

    A couple of years ago, the Saints were America’s feel good story, even if you weren’t a fan or resident of LA. But now, this and all the other bull is casting a major shadow over that organization.

    When will the rain stop? Geez.

  6. fanofschill says: Apr 24, 2012 1:06 PM

    Ditto for spygate “Frankly, that explanation makes a lot more sense that the notion that the videotaping of defensive signals could be done within the 40 seconds before the snap, deciphering what was being signaled by the opposing coaches, making sense of what it meant, and then communicating that information to someone on the coaching staff who would interpret it and relay it to the coaches on the sidelines and then the players on the field in whatever time remained until the ball was hiked.”

  7. rexismybff says: Apr 24, 2012 1:09 PM

    In 2002, the Steelers lost by 3 in New Orleans, even though they outplayed the Saints most of the day. The Steelers ended the season with a 10-5-1 record, 1/2 game away from home field advantage in the AFC, which instead went to the Raiders.

    If the Steelers had won in New Orleans that day, they likely would have had home field throughout the playoffs.

    Cheating does have consequences…

  8. nineroutsider says: Apr 24, 2012 1:09 PM

    I’m sorry I love to rub the Saints fans’ noses in it more than most, but this just seems so unrealistic. I’m not buying this ESPN story and still reserving judgement; if it it’s fake I hope they get so hammered they end up on public access television. If it’s true, the league needs to take a hard look at Benson among many other things…

  9. mikexzilla says: Apr 24, 2012 1:10 PM

    if the report is true, he did a terrible job, they didn’t make the playoffs either of those years and finished terribly, epic fail

  10. pgui88 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:10 PM

    There’s too many men
    Too many people
    Making too many problems
    And not much love to go around
    Can’t you see this is a land of speculation?

  11. ninerswilldominatelikebefore says: Apr 24, 2012 1:11 PM

    new orleans needs to go away!!!! im sick of this franchise!!

  12. blacknole08 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:15 PM

    Loomis has no place in football. Period. He lacks integrity and should be suspended indefinitely/prosecuted if this turns out to be true.

  13. chawk12thman says: Apr 24, 2012 1:16 PM

    If true, it isn’t what specific game advantage he may have gained that is concerning. It is the violation of law and breech of trust. It speaks volumes on him and his organization that we are even considering this as being potentially true.

  14. skippynj says: Apr 24, 2012 1:17 PM

    “I’ve got 15 yards for piling on, on the NFL. 1st and ten, New Orleans Saints.”

  15. CKL says: Apr 24, 2012 1:21 PM

    Man that Payton kid loves Juicy Fruit gum…SIGN HIM UP!!!

  16. smittee22 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:22 PM

    justasecond1 says:
    All I know is the phrase” Wwhen it rains it pours, really does apply to the Saints.

    A couple of years ago, the Saints were America’s feel good story, even if you weren’t a fan or resident of LA. But now, this and all the other bull is casting a major shadow over that organization.

    When will the rain stop? Geez.

    Don’t mention rain when talking about the Saints, Probably lead to another Hurricane and another sympathy Super Bowl for them

  17. jnd666 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:24 PM

    And the villagers assembled with pitchforks & torches…

  18. unitedstateoftexas says: Apr 24, 2012 1:25 PM

    I think people are missing the fact that these allegations were reported to the U.S. Attorney’s office. As much as I hate ESPN they’re not the ones responsible for this story.

  19. nawlinssaints1956 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:29 PM

    OK, so what we have here is an alleged listening system that was allegedly operable 7 – 10 years ago, and no one is alleging that Loomis even uses the alleged system. Are there any actual facts that ESPN might want to report, or are they going to continue their pattern of treating rumors and speculation as news?

  20. mvp43 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:32 PM

    Why is Payton pointing right at me…..what did I do?

  21. genericuser8888 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:38 PM

    Hey everybody, there’s about 1,000 Saints headlines a day anyway, how about we take a crack at creating our own most-horrific-Saints headline of the day. I’ll start. I bet nobody can top this one.

    “Drew Brees decides to sit out season. Brett Farve expresses interest in Saints QB position.”

  22. khuxford says: Apr 24, 2012 1:43 PM

    For someone who wants to suggest ESPN just made this up, you sure are getting a lot of mileage/hits out of talking about the possibilities…

  23. theytukrjobs says: Apr 24, 2012 1:45 PM

    These guys are cheats. Get rid of them. Game doesn’t need folks like this.

    When the NFL tells you to stop doing something that violates the rules, and you deny the allegations while continuing to cheat in exactly the fashion they are accusing you of, then that should be the end of you in that organization.

    Thing is that they’ve demonstrated a blatant disregard for the rules and safety of the game, blatantly disregarding investigations by the NFL along the way. What this tells me is that they were likely violating a lot of other rules as well. What this tells me is that there is a culture there of cheating and doing whatever is possible to win, regardless of what the rules state.

    Now we can sit and argue about how much of an advantage they got with bounties. Or how much of an advantage eavesdropping provided. Or whether any of it is true and to what extent. But what I have to say on the subject is that you have an organization that clearly puts winning above the rules and player safety. They will cheat again if they feel they can get away with it.

    “We don’t apologize about how we play the game”
    -Greg Williams

  24. lombarditrophies says: Apr 24, 2012 1:46 PM

    Who cares if the eavesdropping was unlikely to yield same game benefits? There are three teams that N.O. plays twice a year, and others that they may see again in the playoffs. Coaches cheat now to win now. GM’s cheat now to win later.

    Duh!

  25. pmars64 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:46 PM

    @ rexismybff

    Yeah, and if Butch Davis hadn’t called off the dogs in that wild card game in 2002, the Browns would have blown out the Steelers, too. Of if they didn’t drop that INT or if the receiver doesn’t drop that 3rd down conversion. Blah, blah, blah…

    Tommy Maddox as a Super Bowl QB?? Yeah, I’ve got ocean front property in Nebraska, too.

  26. vtopa says: Apr 24, 2012 1:47 PM

    This is a story? Or is this just an excuse to keep the words “Loomis” “Payton” or “Saints” in the PFT headlines?

  27. trollaikman8 says: Apr 24, 2012 1:49 PM

    Would you buy a used car from a guy named Micky Loomis?

  28. letmesetyoustraight says: Apr 24, 2012 1:53 PM

    *****
    unitedstateoftexas says:
    Apr 24, 2012 1:25 PM
    I think people are missing the fact that these allegations were reported to the U.S. Attorney’s office. As much as I hate ESPN they’re not the ones responsible for this story.
    *****
    Considering that Barr and ESPN have been pursuing this story since April 5th, I imagine the charges were made just last Friday at their behest.

    Jim Haslett and Rick Mueller both say the eavesdropping never happened. Both were fired by Loomis. If anybody had an axe to grind, it would be them.

  29. xxwhodatxx says: Apr 24, 2012 2:02 PM

    This is getting more hilarious by the hour!

  30. bucs13 says: Apr 24, 2012 2:13 PM

    1. I am somewhat mystified by the tone of the coverage. While I think that torches and pitchforks are clearly inappropriate, PFT’s coverage is also bizarre.

    2. This isn’t just a random disgruntled ex-employee shooting the breeze. It’s now a joint federal and state task force. So, at the least, it’s a very motivated disgruntled ex-employee.

    3. This is a violation of NFL bylaws and federal laws. Period. Now, the federal criminal violation may be okay because of a statute of limitations violation (but still subject Loomis and possibly the Saints to civil prosecution), but still…

    4. There is no exception for “no harm, no foul.” If the allegations are true, it doesn’t matter why Loomis did it. To learn the plays for the game? To find out who was injured? To scout out possible coaches? Because he was bored with NOLA radio stations? Because he gets his jollies out of violating the law and people’s privacy? Who knows and cares? If true, he did it, and he shouldn’t have. Period.

  31. jgedgar70 says: Apr 24, 2012 2:32 PM

    What I love about the alleged eavesdropping is that the Saints were 0-3 in the dome against the Panthers when this stuff allegedly happened.

    Can’t wait for week 2: Half-Saints team at Carolina – Cam Newton and his high-powered offense vs a defense with half its players, none of which have any clue how to tackle before a whistle. Panthers win, 49-10.

  32. SeenThisB4 says: Apr 24, 2012 2:38 PM

    Let’s say these charges stick and they are determined to be true. Can Sean Payton sue the Saints too? Or would that violate the terms of his suspension? Cause if not, then he could possible sue for at least the amount of salary he will lose this year, could he not?

  33. skittlesareyum says: Apr 24, 2012 2:43 PM

    bpjensen says:
    Apr 24, 2012 1:03 PM
    I have no idea if these allegations are true or not, and will probably never know.

    However, why does everyone focus solely on the impracticality of Loomis interpreting play calls and relaying them to his staff?

    Could he not have simply focused on communications like who was injured, the extent of injury, whether the player would return, how or who the opposing offense/defense was going to attack, etc. Any of these could provide solid information and are all easily understandable and relayed.

    You’re absolutely right. He could also just figure out if the play is a called run or pass (not difficult to figure out) and relay that information down quickly. Just knowing that would give a large advantage. Also, who says Loomis himself had to do the listening?

    I still don’t know what to think about the allegations, but I’m just saying that *if* it happened it would be a big deal, unlike what Florio keeps jamming down our throats.

  34. saintsfaninoregon says: Apr 24, 2012 2:48 PM

    Tukr,

    “These guys are cheats. Get rid of them. Game doesn’t need folks like this.”

    Go back to high school or community college. You need to take a few writing classes. Your opinion and the points you make may be valid, but no person can read your sentences without getting a headache.

  35. 504in860 says: Apr 24, 2012 2:54 PM

    jgedgar70 says:
    Apr 24, 2012 2:32 PM
    What I love about the alleged eavesdropping is that the Saints were 0-3 in the dome against the Panthers when this stuff allegedly happened.

    Can’t wait for week 2: Half-Saints team at Carolina – Cam Newton and his high-powered offense vs a defense with half its players, none of which have any clue how to tackle before a whistle. Panthers win, 49-10.
    ———————————————–

    Of course, this would require the Panthers defense stopping the Saints offense…which won’t happen. Nice try though.

  36. winningisabrees says: Apr 24, 2012 2:57 PM

    There are a ton of “if’s” and “maybes” in your article, I would tread lightly in these assertions that you are making here. They could come back to bit you. You know, like pushing an agenda that you know to be false just for profit…. oh wait

  37. bucs13 says: Apr 24, 2012 2:59 PM

    “Let’s say these charges stick and they are determined to be true. Can Sean Payton sue the Saints too? Or would that violate the terms of his suspension? Cause if not, then he could possible sue for at least the amount of salary he will lose this year, could he not?”

    Your first sentence doesn’t make any sense.

    Yes, Sean Payton may have a cause of action against the Saints.

    No, that would not violate the terms of his suspension.

    His loss of salary has no bearing on the amount of damages.

  38. rexismybff says: Apr 24, 2012 3:05 PM

    @pmars64 – good point about the Cleveland Wildcard round game, and about Tommy Maddox not looking like a Super Bowl qb.

    However, if the Steelers win that day in New Orleans, they are the home field team in the AFC playoffs in 2002, and aren’t even playing in the Wildcard round.

    And, are you saying that Brad Johnson and Rich Gannon (Super Bowl record 5 INT’s) were obvious Super Bowl QB material? I doubt anyone would make that argument.

  39. pmars64 says: Apr 24, 2012 3:31 PM

    @ rexismybff
    If career back-up Kelly Holcomb (!!) could throw for 400+ yards in that game (maybe top three or four all-time playoff passing games?) while the Browns were taking the Steelers to the woodshed for most of that game IN PITTSBURGH, how far would they have really gone if they did have homefield advantage?

  40. rexismybff says: Apr 24, 2012 3:43 PM

    @pmars64 – who knows? You are talking about a Steeler team that was at home in the AFC title game the year before, and two years later would go 15-1, and then win the Super Bowl the year after.

    They had a solid core. Obviously it didn’t all come together until Roethlisberger arrived, but a lot of the other parts were in place by then.

    Possibly a week off to prepare for Tennessee would have given them an advantage. As it was, they did go into overtime at Tennessee the week after squeaking it out at home against the Browns.

  41. randomguy9999 says: Apr 24, 2012 4:03 PM

    it is very realistic to get an advantage during a game with intercepts like this…

    take a pen and write down each call… then after the play… write down the offensive play that happened…

    by about play 15 you will start getting repeats … by the 4th quarter, when it really counts, you’ve got a simple sheet to convert 80-90% of the potential play calls… you hear the play…. you call it down to the field, the DC calls it in to the Defensive mic…

    it’s very very easy to turn it into a huge advantage… during the course of a game…

  42. eaglebranded says: Apr 24, 2012 4:25 PM

    Alright stop with the denial . The FBI has issued a statement saying it is an investigation . So no one from ESPN is going to jail. They reported the truth not saying they are guilty. Just that they are under investigation which happens to be true.

  43. pmars64 says: Apr 24, 2012 5:04 PM

    @ rexismybff
    Fair enough, but we can play the “what if” game for so many games. What if the Steelers had gotten homefield and go to the SB? Do they draft Roethlisberger in 04? What if that questionable holding call against Seattle was never called? What if they had reviewed the Holmes catch in 08? Or had called the illegal block in the back on Harrison’s INT TD return?

    In this era, when the margin between teams is so razor thin, it’s even easier to play “what if.”

  44. slick3 says: Apr 26, 2012 3:58 AM

    bpjensen says: Apr 24, 2012 1:03 PM

    I have no idea if these allegations are true or not, and will probably never know.

    However, why does everyone focus solely on the impracticality of Loomis interpreting play calls and relaying them to his staff?

    Could he not have simply focused on communications like who was injured, the extent of injury, whether the player would return, how or who the opposing offense/defense was going to attack, etc. Any of these could provide solid information and are all easily understandable and relay
    ======================================

    And, to further expand on that “impracticality” it is conceivable that they , the Saints, played some of those teams more than once, home and away. Therefore, he (Loomis) could have recorded those calls and presented them to those “savvy” members of the coaching staff who could use them the next time they played those teams.

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