At first blush, allegations of Loomis espionage make no sense


ESPN currently is making a big deal about the allegation that Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis was eavesdropping on the communications in which opposing coaches engaged during games.  At first blush, however, the notion that Loomis would find value in hearing the play calls and other communications between the opponents’ coaches makes no sense.

As ESPN’s Bill Polian (pictured) said when asked to explain the edge that the Saints obtained doing this, “There’s something missing here.  I don’t know what kind of competitive advantage you could get.  Mickey would have to know the verbiage of every other opposing team in order to translate, and then he would have to do it instantly and find some way to communicate with his coaching staff, and get it down to the field in time to be useful.  That would be very difficult to do, in my opinion.”

Polian’s right, and he has no natural incentive to help the team that beat his Colts for a Super Bowl that culminated a season in which bounties allegedly were used.  If Loomis knew what the opposing coaches were saying, there would have been no way to translate that information into something that could be used to the Saints’ benefit.

Even if the conversations were being taped and later given to the coaching staff, there’s no way to take that information and turn it into anything that could be used in a future game.

That doesn’t mean the situation shouldn’t be fully investigated.  But it would be ludicrous for Loomis to engage in a blatant violation of federal law if there was nothing to be gained by doing so.

UPDATE 4:34 p.m. ET:  As ESPN’s Adam Schefter also pointed out on the air, Loomis isn’t “an Xs and Os evaluator, so it would be difficult for him to get that information down to somebody in a timely fashion when that’s not the language he’s accustomed to speaking.  He’s accustomed to dealing with agents, doing contracts, managing the cap, finagling the roster, not dealing with play calls and Xs and Os.”

85 responses to “At first blush, allegations of Loomis espionage make no sense

  1. “Even if the conversations were being taped and later given to the coaching staff, there’s no way to take that information and turn it into anything that could be used in a future game.”

    Really? Even when you play 3 of those teams twice every season?

  2. I don’t see how this would play into game day and/or any chance or information to change a game. Unless Mickey studied every OC and DC in the leage, I don’t see what benefit this would provide. Seems like this is starting to become a witch hunt.

  3. Sure, If i heard anything like X out or 19 Draw I wouldnt know if it was a run or pass either…. but thats just me. Plus there are other reports of Loomis sitting on the side of his owners box that was directly next to the assistant coaches box…..

  4. Totally agree with blacknole08. Whether or not there’s any advantage in listening to it, it’s illegal to do it. And if there was no advantage then why was he doing it.

  5. A) How does it not make sense? If they are recording the radio conversation, and play it in sync with game film, they could obviously figure out what certain verbiage means. Especially for divisional teams you play twice.

    Everyone made a big deal about the Patriots filming the signals in game, how is this any different? The guy filming wouldn’t know what the signals meant at the time either.

    B) As blacknoleo8 says, it is illegal to record a conversation without the knowledge of the other party.

  6. Maybe he just wanted to hear what successful teams sound like, and pretend however briefly that he was on one of them?

  7. I wouldn’t put this past a GM or a coach. They’re looking for any competitive advantage they can get.

  8. “Even if the conversations were being taped and later given to the coaching staff, there’s no way to take that information and turn it into anything that could be used in a future game.”


    Yeah, cause it’s not like you have 15-20 minutes at halftime to make offensive and defensive adjustments…

  9. Surely could clearly understand injury communications and setup plans, though.

    Guy dinged up but toughing it out? They’d know the details. Knowing when a HC tells a DC “gotta double Player X this drive/on third downs.” Yup, they’d know that.

    Not everything is in playbook-code.

  10. Going to go out on a limb here and say that OTL is fairly reliable when it comes to their investigations. If they found something, then there is something.

  11. “he has no natural incentive to help the team that beat his Colts for a Super Bowl.”

    I notice you chose to leave out Polian’s comment in the interview, saying “that’s not the Micky Loomis I KNOW.” Yeah, it appears he does have incentive. They’re buddies.

  12. I’m finding it hard to believe that *no* valuable information could be gleaned from eavesdropping, even without any knowledge of another team’s system/verbiage.

  13. Polian is wrong here. It’s not like coaches don’t use the words “pass,” “run,” “blitz,” “punt,” “fake punt/kick,” etc. on the sidelines. That’s all a coach would need. It eliminates many options of the defensive and offensive guessing game. Instead of thinking: run up the middle, run outside, deep pass, short pass, fake punt or punt, you’re thinking what kind of pass or what kind of run? This would give you an extreme advantage. If this is true, it would be an absolute joke.

  14. What part of coaches discussions about tendencies and shifting defenses don’t you understand. It would seem to me valuable to know what opposing coaches discuss during the game and not look at just what defense is called that one play as you suggest.

  15. Something tells me that if he listened to the various teams for 3 years (that is at least 6 games for division rivals) he could probably figure out the verbiage after a few of them. I can not imagine why they would go through the effort and expense if they had absolutely no use otherwise. I imagine that one could text summaries fairly quickly.

    All that said, this was well before the Superbowl they won and over 5 years old on top of that. I’d probably just recommend that the Commish reiterate that this sort of thing isn’t allowed and let the Saints take the further media/opposing fan bashing that they richly deserve assuming it is true.

  16. “If Loomis knew what the opposing coaches were saying, there would have been no way to translate that information into something that could be used to the Saints’ benefit.”

    Shouldn’t this be how spyware was looked at?

      If the Patriots knew what the opposing coaches were signaling, there would have been no way to translate that information into something that could be used to the Pats’ benefit.”

    Same scenario to me – Patriots could in no way use those signals during that same game. No way to film, decipher, translate and verify signal was correct. Not used in same game then no big deal to me with either Pats or Saints.

    No illegally taping someone outside of football is a different real world law

  17. Just shows what an ass Polian really is. What about using this information for future reference, this may not have been an advantage when the Saints played the colts but what about the 3 teams in the NFC south that the Saints play twice a year. If there is nothing to gain from it Polian then why listen in the first place. When push comes to shove the Saints found something in the ease dropping that worked to their advantage or they wouldnt be doing it.

  18. LOL Loomis needs to get a hearing aid because they were what 2002 9-7 2003 8-8 2004 8-8:) lol listening in on other coaches conversations did no good.

  19. With this new slice of info it starts to make me wonder about if they used this same technology in the super bowl. Tracy Porter (at the time) a no name corner jumps a Reggie Wayne route on crucial down for a pick 6? hummmmmmm

  20. “Outside the Lines” could not determine for certain whether Loomis ever made use of the electronic setup.

    Again…neatly buried in the article.

    Considering this all happened before Payton and Brees arrived in town its pretty hilarious that the pitchfork crowd is back in full force. If you want to vacate all of Aaron Brooks’ wins by all mean go for it LOL.

  21. That’s not the point!! What IS useful AND advantageous is hearing the general conversation or plan of attack. In other words, “hey, we’re gonna abandon the run” or “we’re gonna double pump the safety since he’s biting” or whatever other bits of info might be discussed. We’re not talking dissecting play-calling, we’re talking about getting an unfair advantage!. If there’s nothing to gain, then why not have both teams be able to listen to each other’s communications?! Polian makes no sense.

  22. Wait, there’s no competitive advantage to listening / taping conversations for future use, and yet you constantly rake the Patriots over the coals for videotaping?

    Realistically, the Pats coaches weren’t going to be able to view opposing coaches hand signals, then get the information to the QB in time for a snap to get off – EVERYONE who’s watched a game of Football must know that by now – but they were punished for breaking the rules. And if Loomis did the same, then the Saints should get the same treatment.

  23. I dont think you would have to be an X’s and O’s evaluator to get information that you heard verbatim to someone who is an X and O evaluator such as Gregg Williams who would be sitting less than 5 feet away from you…. but again…. thats just me

  24. Let me help:

    # It would be a competitive advantage particularly vs. division oponents, whom they play twice a year. So they would have more time to match terms to plays or motion shifts, etc. Much like the Giants saying “OMAHA” before the ball is certain to be snapped.

    # The teams may have codes for plays, but not for strategy!

    # If the communications were in the locker room – imagine hearing about the strategy to do an onside kick to start the second half?

  25. Isn’t that sort of the same as using videotaped signals in a future game?

    Based on the fact you would think a team would change it’s signals the next time the teams play. it makes no sense to record them, but there must have been an advantage to do it or the Pats wouldn’t have done it. Same with the Saints.

  26. Maybe it’s not useful for in-game advantage, but if you know the opposing teams terminology, it can certainly help in future in future match ups.

    GMs concerns are mostly the future. Not the present. That’s where the coaches come in.

    The press can dismiss what Loomis did, but the fact is, this is just another symptom of a corrupt organization willing to do whatever to get a championship. I have no doubt more will come out and Loomis and Payton won’t be working in the NFL for years to come.

    This is just another one of many tips of the iceberg.

    Ornstein, Vicodin, Bounty Gate, Benson suspending his granddaughter, and now wiretapping. Sorry, you can’t convince any rational person that all of things happened in a vacuum.

  27. I agree 100%. Now if it’s so difficult to imagine how VERBAL information could be quickly translated and relayed to provide an in-game competitive advantage, please explain how HAND-SIGNALS are supposed to be quickly translated and relayed to provide an in-game competitive advantage.

  28. Wait a sec – the Cheatin’ Saints play the Falcons, Bucs, and Panthers twice a year. So if the Saints play them at home first, then 4-5 weeks later they play again at the other teams place, the Saints have plenty of time to match the communications with the on-field situations and would then be able to decipher some of the coachspeak.

    This WOULD be a competitive advantage IMO. Plus, who’s to say Loomis is alone up there? He could have former coaches/consultants who know the X’s and O’s.

    I could see how the Saints doing this vs the better teams teams would help them if they played that team agin in the playoffs.

  29. Did anyone expect them to come right out and admit it? Scumbag organization. Not a surprise.

  30. The Giants saying OMAHA is them checking to the Outside Zone … but thats not too hard to crack…

  31. Polian said ” this is not the Mickey Loomis I know ” well apparently no one knows the real Mickey Loomis. There has not been a mention that this is the same guy who ordered Saints employees to lie and cover up Joe Vitt’s felony theft of narcotics from the Saints Medical safe. The listening could store the information, relate the call to the game film and then be easier to possibly use it the next time you play that team not to mention, I am sure other things are said during a game other than play calling, Coaches may discuss one of their players being injured, a certain weakness in a match up or a tendency discovered about the Saints in this case. I don’t know for sure but I would imagine there are all kinds of discussions among the Coaches in the box as well as to the field. Polian or any other NFL Insider is not going to chance being on the outs for info so of course they will try and make us all think this is no big deal….again ! you included Florio.

  32. This could not all be happening to a more deserving team and fan base.
    It sure has been a riot to watch.
    In the words of the legendary Bob Marley “You reap what you sow”
    Did you guys ever figure out where that vicodin went?

  33. Seriously??

    How could one be so naive NOT to believe there is no advantage in listening in?

    1. The headcoach can tell his O.C “lets run, run, run to eat clock out” if up by 2 scores etc.

    2. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that
    “Pro right, double tight set Curl, X Cross, Y GO” is a pass play. If you don’t know that, than your an idiot.

    3. What if 4th and 1 and team goes for it? Are they really going for it or just trying to get them offsides? BIG DIFFERENCE!

    C’mon Florio.. and especially Polian.

    How hard is it to signal to coaches who are TALKING TO THE LINEBACKER OR QB on the field?????

  34. Look, the Saints organization may be a bunch of scumbags from top to bottom, but this seems to be a stretch.

  35. You’re better than this Florio. Any divisional opponent will be bothered by this.

    ESPN will no doubt overreact and run this into the ground… but shouldn’t be discounted.

  36. I Promise when its all said and done this will be MUCH bigger than just the GM getting playcalls. If he could get them hardwired to the suite how hard would it be to send signals onto the field?

  37. I think Pollian is playing dumb on this one. As another suggested, to stay in the loop within the coaching circles. How hard is it to match up the verbiage to the film and break it down for the next time you play them. Lot of other valuable info is relayed throughout the game.

  38. In addition to the obvious information on signal stealing, etc., could this have been a way to confirm injuries relative to the bounty payments? When there’s a systematic pattern of ignoring the rules & lying to cover it up, where’s the limit?

  39. It is a very serious issue,even if the statue of limitations has lapsed.the league fined the pats and stripped away it’s draft pick in round 1 when they taped the coaches sending in signals despite not proving it did not give them an advantage!
    Loomis may get suspended the whole 2012 season if the league has enough evidence to prove this happened! throw in the vicodin,bounty gate and everything else,the saints are a huge mess and it may be time to clean house!

  40. It doesn’t matter if he knows the “x’s and o’s” or not. How long would it take for him to download what was said and give it to his coaches? I’m sure they could’ve used info like this

  41. whitemike55 says: Apr 23, 2012 4:53 PM

    How hard is it to signal to coaches who are TALKING TO THE LINEBACKER OR QB on the field?????

    Coaches couldn’t talk to defensive players until the rule change in 2008.

    Regardless, if there was an eavesdropping system in place, wouldn’t it make more sense to have an assistant coach in the booth listening and not a cap-guru numbers cruncher?

  42. UPDATE 4:34 p.m. ET: As ESPN’s Adam Schefter also pointed out on the air, Loomis isn’t “an Xs and Os evaluator, so it would be difficult for him to get that information down to somebody in a timely fashion


    That never stopped anyone from making the RIDICULOUS statement that the Patriots were filming, analyzing, passing along and integrating signal calling info on the fly during games, all related to Spygate.

    Fans who know nothing about football to this day assert that , because the Patriots used a camera from the sidelines rather than from the stands (as the NFL rules STILL ALLOW) the location of the camera somehow gave them a competitive edge.

    Of course such contentions only make the “haters” look stupid – but they still like to make those allegations.

    In this case we’re not talking about having lip readers interpret signal calling a la Spygate

    All one would need to do is pass along the audio tape to a coach – so this is MUCH worse – a violation of federal bugging laws and not just NFL rules and an allegation that provides simple info that gives a competitive edge.

    But, as with Spygate, do your history – read Lee Groscup’s Sports expose’ from 1967 and learn about George Halas, Lamar Hunt and George Allen and their spying tactics if you don’t think things like this have been going on since the 1950s at least.

  43. Oh, look, more accusations about the Saints without hard evidence to back it up.

    FYI, I can’t comment on taping radio communications, but in Louisiana, to the best of my knowledge, it is completely legal to record phone calls and coversations so long as ONE PARTY has knowledge that the conversation is being recorded. Look it up if you don’t believe me. I think it’s fairly common in divorce proceedings, child custody hearings, etc, for one party to produce recorded phone calls that the other new nothing about before court/discovery/etc. I’m pretty sure about this, but like I said, double check me if you don’t believe me. These laws change from state to state.

    By the way folks who keep saying “Payton admitted to bounties” – no, he didn’t, – he said he was guilty of “looking at one side of the ball too much” but never admitted to knowing about the bounties. He and Loomis were suspended for “failure to maintain institutional control” or something to that effect. As Goodell said, “If they didn’t know, they should have known.” So, don’t be mistaken that Payton admitted knowing about bounties. Even Greg Williams’ speech didn’t mention bounties. (I’m not saying they didn’t occur, I’m just saying no one has produced hard evidence of them yet, and the NFLPA seems to agree.)

    Last, it’s really strange how just as the NFLPA start saying the league does not have any evidence, and more media figures are saying that Payton’s punishment is too harsh….another bad story about the Saints just “happens”to break… If I believed in conspiracy theories, I would say the league is trying to deflect attention from the bounty scandal as it is simply causing more trouble for the league as more players admit such things have occured with other players and on other teams… The suspensions might help the league with the concussion suit, but all these admissions from retired and current players is actually starting to make the league look worse in regards to safety. …this whole thing might have backfired.

    –The league wanted to stir up talk about how the NFL takes safety seriously, but instead, you’ve got talk about how it HASN’T taken safety seriously for the last 30 years. …and then, another “evil Saints” story with no substantiation comes out…

  44. If Drew Brees demands an explanation, and claims nothing happened then we will know it’s true!

  45. Did Loomis leave a running tape recorder in a briefcase and then leave the room? That Jerry Lewis was a genius!

  46. Bill Polian should be fired by ESPN ASAP. I’ve lost all respect for him. Watching him trying to protect his good friend Mickey Mouse I mean Loomis. Blabbering all over the place about how Loomis doesn’t call plays. If the allegations are true, he broke the law regardless of his knowledge of an opposing team’s terminology. It just goes to show that NFL teams are run by morons.

  47. As I figured some of you people think you know more about football then people who have been associated w/ it their whole adult lives. Do you really think a H.C or O.C would call in a play and say let’s run right, or let’s throw deep to #80? It’s more difficult than you think. If it was really simple to call plays you would be a H.C instead of commenting on this story.

  48. I’ve been extremely critical of the Saints coaches on the bounty thing because of the NFL’s report following its investigation, the involvement of outside funding, and the Williams audiotapes. But who is ESPN’s source for this information?

    If the Saints were engaged in something like this, Loomis would be an odd choice to handle it because he’s not a football guy. Sorry, doesn’t matter what else they’ve done. Until some evidence is presented, this is just another rumor to be taken with a big grain of salt.

  49. Can one of the geniuses please explain what law was supposedly broken here? Please don’t comment on things that you know nothing about. This is a non story and even if it were true it breaks no laws.

  50. Are you kidding me? Revoke the Superbowl trophy immediately. It is pretty much worthless at this point any way since nobody respects the Saint’s Super Bowl win anymore.

  51. The pats look like angels compared to this. Whatever spy gate was, it wasn’t a violation of federal wiretapping law. I wonder what a sb ring is worth in a federal correctional institution. Hopefully these cheaters find out.

  52. So this is alledged to have happened in previous years, and wasn’t known until now?

    If he was able to do it for several years without detection, who says he also wasn’t able to have a radio-like transmitter in which he could communicate to someone on the field (say the middle linebacker?) and thus give an advantage to the defense?

    Flank right? Means nothing to me, probably meant little to Loomis, but to the middle linebacker (or whoever ran/runs a defense), it might mean something. They’re too stupid to take advantage, small as that advantage might be?

  53. The NFL is playing hardball to keep the concussion and safety lawsuits out of the news as much as possible to try to quietly find a solution for the 1200 pending player lawsuits.

    Throwing the Saints to the wolves again is just good business.

    All the NFL needed to do is have someone send something alleging the 8 year old violation to a DA and then tip off a reporter about the “allegation” in order to create a media frenzy.

    Why would the NFL want this? How many stories do you see about Ray Easterling today? The NFL needed something else in the news cycle to get the Sports media off of that story.

    And it is working brilliantly.

    PFT has SIX stories in the last 12 hours about this eight year old allegation.

    PFT has ran ONE story about Ray Easterling since he committed suicide last Thursday.

    Ray’s suicide ties directly into the issues with the NFL and the current player lawsuits. But this tragedy will be forgotten because the sports press machines are idiots.

  54. This obviously wouldn’t be nearly as useful (if useful at all) as the material intercepted in Spygate, but, like many have posted, that doesn’t mean it’s ok. All it means is that the Patriots are way better at cheating than the Saints.

  55. I’ll withhold judgement until some actual evidence is provided. But if this is true it is WAY worse than what the Patriots did in Spygate. The Pats were videotaping for future use, this was real time strategy being stolen.

    I thought the Pats were the only team that did this stuff? Thats what Ive been hearing for years now.

  56. Schefter’s point is ridiculous and assumes that the only person’s head that could fit into that headset was Loomis’. The reality is that anybody’s head could be wearing that headset and relaying calls.

    It’s also ridiculous to say it would have been useless due to verbiage. How many times have you heard players who were traded from one team to another talk about how it wasn’t that big a deal because the verbiage was almost exactly the same? I hear that all the time, so to claim it would have been indecipherable is just plain BS. All you have to do is watch Gruden’s QB Camp to know how ridiculous this claim is as he regularly calls out plays for the COLLEGE QBs to draw up…and they do.

    All the Saints would have to do is have an assistant wearing the headset, listen to the play calls and hand signal the appropriate information.

  57. Ray’s suicide ties directly into the issues with the NFL and the current player lawsuits. But this tragedy will be forgotten because the sports press machines are idiots.
    What is the suicide rate of NFL players versus the general population?

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