Saints deny eavesdropping allegation

Team denies report on possible eavesdropping

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NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints denied an anonymously sourced ESPN report on Monday alleging that general manager Mickey Loomis’ booth in the Super­dome was wired so he could listen to opposing coaches’ radio communications during games.

An ESPN report accused Saints GM Mickey Loomis of using a device to listen in on opposing coaches.  SETH WENIG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
SETH WENIG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
An ESPN report accused Saints GM Mickey Loomis of using a device to listen in on opposing coaches.

ESPN could not determine whether the system was ever used. The report on Mon­day’s Outside the Lines said Loomis would have been able to eavesdrop on opponents from 2002 to 2004. The report said the system was disabled in 2005, when the Superdome was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel called the report “1,000 percent false.”

“We asked ESPN to provide us evidence to support their allegations and they refused,” Bensel said. “The team and Mickey are seeking all legal recourse regarding these false allegations.”

Loomis explained his use of an earpiece and described his game-day setup in the Superdome booth in an e-mailed statement.

“I have a monitor in front of me in my booth that provides the league-issued stats for the game,” he said. “I have a small TV with the network broadcast and I have an earpiece to listen to the WWL-AM radio game broadcast.

“To think I am sitting in there listening and actually … doing something with the offensive and defensive play calls of the opposing teams makes this story and the unnamed sources that provided the false information that much more less credible,” Loomis’ statement continued. “It just didn’t happen.”

Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, the Saints’ head coach from 2000-05, denied knowledge of any system that would have allowed for eavesdropping.

Such a system would violated NFL rules and possibly infringe on federal wiretapping laws.

“We were not aware of it,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiel­lo said when asked about the report. “We have no knowledge of the allegations.”

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten in New Orleans said his office had been told about “general allegations” involving the Saints and possible wiretapping, but he did not elaborate. He declined to discuss who made the allegations.

ESPN’s report said Letten briefed the FBI on the matter. FBI spokeswoman Sheila Thorne said the agency’s New Orleans office was aware of the situation but wouldn’t comment further.


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