Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is suspended for the first eight games of the regular season for his role in the team’s bounty program, but the suspension won’t keep him from meeting with Saints owner Tom Benson and other team officials.
Benson recently bought the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets and installed Loomis as the director of basketball operations, and the NFL has confirmed that during Loomis’s suspension he’ll be allowed to meet with Benson and anyone else associated with both the Saints and the Hornets. The only catch is that Loomis won’t be allowed to talk about the Saints: The league expects Loomis to deal only with his NBA duties while he’s suspended.
Of course, that’s going to be just about impossible to enforce. If the Saints, for instance, lose an offensive lineman to an injury in their season opener, and if Loomis meets with Benson the next day to talk about the Hornets, will the NFL have any way of knowing if Loomis also tells Benson the name of a free agent offensive lineman he thinks the Saints should sign?
Suspending a general manager for eight games was always an odd punishment. If the NFL really wanted to punish Loomis, suspending him for three days during the NFL draft would have been a much harsher punishment than suspending him for eight weeks at the start of the season. Suspending him for four games of the preseason would have been a harsher punishment than suspending him for eight games of the regular season, too: A general manager’s job is a lot more important during the time when the team is trimming its roster from 90 players to 53 than it is once the 53-man roster has been set. Yes, the eight-game suspension means Loomis won’t be around to consult on potential trades and waiver claims during the first eight weeks of the season, but for a general manager, a suspension during the offseason would have more teeth than a suspension during the regular season.
And now it turns out that even during Loomis’s suspension, he’s going to be in regular contact with the owner of the Saints. At a time when the players who were suspended for the bounty program are claiming they got a raw deal, Loomis’s punishment looks relatively minor.