Tuesday, 24 April 2012 16:48

ESPN whistled for piling on against Loomis, Saints

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 And now before the court comes the curious case of Mickey Loomis, current Saints General Manager, who is accused of listening in on opposing coaches' game-time scheming through an earpiece wired into his Superdome booth. Loomis recently sat in the docket and was found guilty by Judge Goodell of conduct detrimental to the National Football League by being less than forthcoming about a bounty program. As we examine these most recent charges, are we to think said Loomisaints referees is a serial criminal, a pathological eavesdropper or just the victim of a national media pile-on? Judging by the few facts I have seen, I vote for the latter and for immediate acquittal!

     The charges come from an ESPN special report on its highly regarded Outside the Lines investigative program. Citing a single unnamed source, the program accused Loomis of adapting a device originally installed by his predecessor, Randy Mueller, for listening in to the Saints coaches booth. Presumably, Mueller installed the device as part of his job of evaluating coaches and how they handle the pressures and situations during a game. When Mueller was fired in 2002, Loomis is alleged to have had the device adjusted so that it contained a switch which he could use to go back and forth between the Saints coaches booth and that of the opposing team. But, in our eternal mission to enlighten the dull and upgrade the knowledge of those sporting fans who can read, we turn to Act II Scene 2 of Hamlet and ask: "To what end, my lord?" 

     That question has so far eluded an answer. To believe such a device could provide one team with an edge is to be ignorant of game-day communications between coaches and the field. Just say a listener in one booth heard a snippet of intelligence coming from an opposing coach. Could the listener interpret the information then communicate it to the coaches in the booth who would transmit same information to the field in time for it to be effective? Poppycock! Things are moving too fast for such a calculated form of spying. Keep in mind that the offenses are alleged to have occurred between 2002-04 with the pre-texting, pre-PDA technology of the day, which casts even more doubt upon the allegations. 

     The fact is that the Saints are America's Whipping Boy right now. They are beaten down and vulnerable after the Bountygate scandal produced a one-year suspension of Coach Sean Payton amid other penalties and suspensions of Loomis and Joe Vitt. Any allegation of impropriety at this time would automatically carry some perception of truth. Local attorney Chick Foret, who appears frequently as a legal authority for local news outlets, told WWL-AM today that the ESPN reporter who did the story called him three weeks ago, asking questions that told Foret he was digging for dirt. The interesting thing was that the reporter did not ask Foret about the alleged Loomis eavesdropping, which he apparently discovered later. He was looking for dirt, any dirt, and finally found it, whether he could prove it or not.

     As one who toiled in the newspaper business in the previous century, I learned that no editor would go to press with a revealing story without multiple sources confirming the same offense. But ESPN's apparent reliance on a single unnamed source and little else brings the entire report into question. To suggest the commission of a crime is not the same as proving it. As an old scribe, I still believe a man is innocent until proven guilty, something the ESPN report ignored.

by Jim Miller, former Exec. VP for the New Orleans Saints

Don't forget to check Jim Miller's website: www.JWMillerSports.com

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