Louis Freeh’s next task: Investigating the Saints

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Former FBI Director Louis Freeh has released his report into the coverup of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children by Joe Paterno and others at Penn State University, and it’s a devastating indictment of the university’s former leadership. And now Freeh will move on to another investigation, of the New Orleans Saints.

As we noted last month, Saints owner Tom Benson has hired Freeh to conduct a top-to-bottom investigation of the Saints, focusing both on the accusation that Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis rigged his box at the Superdome to allow him to eavesdrop on opposing coaches, and on the bounty case.

From all indications, Freeh conducted a thorough investigation that pulled no punches and did no favors to anyone at Penn State. He and his investigative team appeared interested only in getting to the truth of what happened, and not at all in protecting Paterno, former Penn State administrators, or anyone whose reputation might be damaged by the investigation’s findings.

Given that, it’s fair to conclude that if there’s dirt to be found with the Saints, Freeh will find it.

With both the wiretapping allegations against Loomis and the Saints bounty case, many questions remain about just what happened, and what kind of evidence exists to support the conclusions that have been drawn. Just as he has at Penn State, Freeh may be able to shed new light on what really took place in New Orleans.

35 responses to “Louis Freeh’s next task: Investigating the Saints

  1. Benson has been completely open with the NFL this whole investigation. When the NFL use the media to convict the Saints right out the gate, Benson offered an open door and total cooperation. I know many of you are mad at the players for dragging this out. From a personal standpoint, I see why they are dragging it out, but it doesn’t make it easier to watch unfold. What’s worse is seeing the NFL purposefully hide the truth about so many things over the years and try to spin every story their way. Everyone involved is forever tarnished. Everyone except the Saints organization. The Benson family, the fans, and the whole city of NOLA. Benson is going out of his way putting his neck on the line in search of truth. I’d like to see this guy show up in the NFL office next for an investigation of just how badly the coverups have been over the years.

  2. @ goodolebaghead

    “Everyone involved is forever tarnished. Everyone except the Saints organization. The Benson family, the fans, and the whole city of NOLA.”

    Serious who’s image is trarnished if you just gave everyone involved a pass? Who’s that leave 6-8 people including a couple of players and a few coaches? Grow up

  3. I would like to know more about the eavesdropping. While bounties are against the rules and despicable, the eavesdropping on opposing coaches rises to the same level of cheating as the Patriots did and maybe even worse. While the Pats got off way to lightly, if Loomis is found to have done it he and anyone involved should be banned for life.

  4. Could our government put Mr. Freeh in an agency with the authority to investigate abuses in congress? Oh wait…

  5. “Benson has been completely open with the NFL this whole investigation.”

    Agreed. Which is why, given the severity of individual penalties, the organizational penalties have been extremely light.

    However, you should note that as in Penn State, there is likely to not be direct evidence of wrongdoing on an institutional level, and instead just overwhelming circumstantial evidence. Strangely enough, you still have people saying that JoePa et al couldn’t really have understood what was going on, and that the emails are just being misconstrued.

    And that all the circumstantial evidence in the Bounty Case is just, well, evidence that there was an extremely robust “pay for performance” system that the Saints lied about and covered up, and that Williams just liked to exuberantly comment about the pay for performance system with telling anecdotes involving headshots and carting players off, and so on.

  6. What is more sickening than Sandusky and his lead accomplice(Paterno) is the PSU fans who continueally make excuses for Paterno and the school, and refuse to accept the fact that Paterno cared more about his image and football than he did about the lives of multiple little boys.

    I swear some of those PSU fans(weirdos) over on CFT need professionall help, as long as the guy who runs it. JT

  7. it’s the idiots on other teams that are getting arrested every other day that should be investigated. the only thing we here in new orleans want is to SEE ALL THE EVIDENCE. if it’s as strong as godell claims then all involved should be punished. but JUST SHOW US THE PROOF!!!! quit hiding it.

  8. we here in the whodat nation welcome an unbiased investigation. i just hope goodell doesn’t stonewall this guy and shows him everything so that he can get to the truth.

  9. Isn’t it kind of late for a real investigation?
    Whatever evidence there was, surely much of it can be covered up, witnesses rethinking making statements etc by now.

  10. By the way, I admire what Benson is doing. As an owner, the worst part of the whole mess wasn’t the original existence of the program (regardless of whether it was a “bounty program” or a “enthusiastic pay for performance program”); it was the lying and coverup. Why? Two reasons-

    1. First, it’s never the crime, it’s the coverup. Not only do you have the evidence of the original culpability, but the evidence of people lying about it. Then you add in the fact that after the NFL originally investigated whatever it was, they continued. That’s a failure of management.

    2. Second, had the problem been nipped in the bud to begin with, it wouldn’t have been so bad. The cultural change that occurred in the two/three years between the original investigation and the new investigation (concussions, player safety) made the fallout worse.

  11. Good for Benson if he is enabling a true and impartial investigation. Those two words have not been particularly applicable in this process so far, not from the NFL, players, Loomas, or coaches.

    It will be very interesting to see what he comes up with and while his investigation is of the Saints organization hopefully he will be up front with his opinions and findings regarding the NFL in this as well.

  12. I like what Benson is doing too. I expect denials from either side and further recriminations but I sincerely hope this is the beginning of this getting settled. A year or two from now, I hope this whole hot mess results in more accountability from the NFL and team owners and safer, longer careers for players both in the NFL and after.

  13. I wonder what he would find if Freeh investigated each NFL club and the NFL front office.

  14. Anyone who took the time to look at the Penn St investigation done by Freeh saw a big problem. Lacking any actual legal authority to compel anyone to cooperate, many key people at the heart of the cover-up chose not to talk with Freeh “on advice of counsel”.

    I would expect the same thing to happen with the Saints “investigation”.

    Former employees and players don’t have to return Freeh’s calls–and most won’t. Current players and employees have a tougher choice. They will be expected/pressured to talk to Freeh openly and honestly. But— what if someone chooses not to submit to an interview while citing the right to not self incriminate? Can Benson fire someone for exercising a constitutional right? You can bet Loomis, Payton, etc are already discussing that with their attorneys.

  15. Don’t act like there is no evidence and the NFL is just doing this for fun. They singled out one of the feel good story teams for many years and out of spite, started tearing into them with punishments instead of another team? This isn’t a court of law with reasonable doubt. He at the very least proved that he was lied to by the saints multiple times and that’s good enough for the NFL. Hell, if I catch an employee lying to me,I question everything he or she has ever told me. Punish the hell out of them.

  16. Could it be that the mighty NFL has some things they don’t want the world to know about their little secret society of billionaire ownership, hence the resistance to make their “evidence” public?

    And do you really wanna know those secrets?

  17. Should be interesting…but we must never forget, even though Freeh was hired by the Saints owner…the owners have shown they support Roger Goodell 100%.

    I didn’t hear Benson sticking up for his players or his coaches, so it’s difficult to say with certainty that the Saints owner is not paying for a predetermined opinion from Louie Freeh…an opinion that supporters Goodell.

    The Bounty case could be the “Ace” the NFL hopes to play in a much bigger case…a case that could cost the owners and the NFL billions…


    The NFL and Goodell would love to point to the Bounty case and say (hypothetically)…

    …”don’t blame the NFL for all the concussions players received during their careers, because it’s been proven and affirmed by Louie Freeh that the players intentionally tried to cause injuries, including concussions in the Bounty case”…

    Would Tom Benson sacrifice his Saints in this manner if he and the rest of the owners along with Goodell thought they could pull off this charade to help escape the potential liability (Billions of $$) they could be facing in the Concussion litigation?

    …good question ???

    The NFL= the 32 franchise owners and the management they hired (Goodell and company) to help run the National Football League…they are all on the same side and I would expect them to work together to escape the potential liability of the Concussion case.

  18. Curious if he investigates the illegal pill-popping by Payton and Vitt that was all but swept under the rug.

  19. I’m about 80 pages into the Freeh report thus far. And yeah, the senior administration at Penn State should fry. Paterno is lucky he died or he’d be up on perjury charges right alongside Curley and Shultz.

    I will respect the findings of Freeh’s investigation into the Saints. I just don’t trust any word that comes out of Goodell’s mouth on any subject based on its own merit.

  20. “But— what if someone chooses not to submit to an interview while citing the right to not self incriminate?”

    The Constitution applies to “the State”, not to Freeh acting on behalf of a private employer. People can refuse to talk to him *because they don’t want to*, and the private employer can judge their actions accordingly and take the action he sees fit.

    In other news, you might have the First Amendment right to say the eff word without the government punishing you. Probably shouldn’t say it to your private employer.

  21. After the Saints he will be appointed to methodically investigate other NFL teams. The Saints are just the model program to base future NFL franchise investigations on.

  22. As a Saints fan, I look forward to seeing the results of Freeh’s investigation regardless of the conclusions. I hope he is truly neutral – I don’t want a result that is skewed in the Saints’ favor any more than one that is skewed toward the NFL.

    If it turns out that Goodell was right all along, I will gladly apologize.

  23. Just an observation or two:

    1. I’m a bit surprised, and not a little impressed, that Freeh’s report on Penn State was not a whitewash of the acts and omissions of school legends and admininstators, given that Penn State paid for his services and has potential financials interests at stake. After all, enabling a pedophile to practice his disgusting art on campus can cost the school millions. Believe me, its always – always – about the money.

    2. I’m wondering now if Benson is having second thoughts about turning Freeh loose in New Orleans. What financial harm can a truly unbiased report have on the owner? Or, what adverse affect would it have on the NFL itself ( of which Benson is an enterprise partner ) if Freeh’s investigation shows as little evidence as Goodell has been able to come up with, which is pathetically little so far.

    3. There is another reason why no single player should speak one word to Freeh. This whole matter is now in litigation, including what appears to be a serious claim against Goodell for slander and libel ( based on currently known evidence ). They are all potential witnesses to what did, or did not, happen. They are subject to being deposed by either side. So they are well within their rights to tell Freeh that he can get a copy of their deposition when the time comes. The same goes for the coaches.

    4. I still don’t understand why so many visitors to this site believe that these players should not be entitled to see the evidence against them and why they should submit to punishment without seeing the evidence and why a case has been “proved” against them when Goodell’s evidence keeps turning up embellished, fabricated, or just plain false.

  24. Bucs13—

    I’d say that anyone fired from their job because they declined to waive their constitutional rights (as is the possible position Loomis, Payton, Vitt and others make take) would have a potential wrongful termination lawsuit on their hands.

    While they are not government employees (who have ‘Garrity Rights’) those Saint’s named above would surely make take legal action if they refused to waive the fifth and were retaliated against for doing so.

    Maybe they win–maybe they don’t. But ask yourself this–would YOU want to have 12 New Orleans jurors deciding a case where you are being sued by Sean Payton?

  25. I bet Roger Goodell is shaking in his boots now! Freeh will do a REAL investigation which will expose Goodell and his fake investigation. Benson has zero respect for Goodell anymore (who does?) Freeh’s investigation will set the Saints free once and for all from the Phantom-bounty-scandal! The Saints will host and win the Super Bowl this season in the New Orleans Mercedes Benz Superdome! Geaux Saints!

  26. The truth is never afraid of investigation. This is what GODell failed to do in the first place before throwing an entire organization to the trigger mob of nimrods who tried and pilloried us in a public display of ignorance and douchery I have never seen the like of before. Including a bunch of you folks here, it has been a circus of people jumping to conclusions, ignoring anything of evidence, since there was none, and we look forward to somebody coming in and shoving this whole head cheese right down the Ginja Ninja’s throat. GODell has got to go. He doesn’t know how to run a 7-11, much less the NFL.

  27. “I’d say that anyone fired from their job because they declined to waive their constitutional rights (as is the possible position Loomis, Payton, Vitt and others make take) would have a potential wrongful termination lawsuit on their hands.”

    1. You have no “constitutional rights” with regards to private entities. None. If your friend, or employer, asks you a question, you don’t have a fifth amendment right to not answer. You do have the ability to not answer, but that’s, you know, an ability you always have. Maybe if Freeh was a court, and maybe if he subpoenaed them, you’d have an argument. And maybe if Josh Freeman doesn’t suck this year, the Bucs will win the Super Bowl. Not holding my breath.

    2. A “wrongful termination lawsuit”? Do you mean that there was a breach of contract, or a CBA, or civil rights laws, or somesuch? Or that at-will employees are creating a new prima facie tort? Just curious!

  28. Just because Benson hires Freeh it doesn’t mean that the NFL or NFLPA have to cooperate with him. That’s very different from what went on at PSU.

    Personally, I think that after the first investigation Benson should have instituted a little more oversight. His ignorance of everything is awfully convenient…

  29. Payton and Williams tokk their punishments and moved on. Obviously they admitted to wrong doing. Didn’t Williams apologize?

    They are guilty. Whether you agree with the punishment is one thing but to deny it happened is pathetic.

  30. Freeh did leave a lot of stones unturned and only came to conclusions on what for the most part was already public. The board was spared, the prosecutors who declined to prosecute weren’t even talked about

  31. Here’s Goodell’s official position on penalizing the players:
    1. I don’t have to show you the evidence
    2. If I do, then this little bit right here is enough
    3. But if this little bit is sort of weak, manipulated, embellished and fabricated, then
    4. I don’t need any evidence.

    This is what’s known as the “Racehorse” Haynes defense. “Racehorse” was a famous trial lawyer in Texas. When his client got sued, charged with letting his dog bite and maim the plaintiff, “Racehorse” had this defense:

    1. My client’s dog didn’t bite you
    2. If he did bite you, it wasn’t very hard
    3. If it was very hard, then you provoked the dog
    4. If you didn’t provoke the dog, then my client doesn’t own a dog.

  32. Freeh should have been so vigilant when he was on the government dole. He could have cleaned a lot of house. Amazingly, he did nothing. (sarcasm)

  33. Why do I get the feeling that Benson’s reaction to the Penn State report was to say to himself, “Oh no, he did a real investigation! What did I get myself into?”

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