From offering bounties to eavesdropping on rivals, the list of accusations against the New Orleans Saints continues to grow more sinister.
According to a stunning report from ESPN's Outside The Lines, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis could have been eavesdropping on opponents' coaching staffs for nearly three seasons using a small electronic device installed in his Superdome suite. If the allegations are proven, Loomis -- who has already been suspended eight games for his role in the Saints bounty scandal -- may have committed a federal crime to go along with a violation of NFL rules.
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Saints vice president of communications Greg Bensel denied the report on Monday, telling WWLTV in New Orleans that "ridiculously false.".
“This report is 1000 percent false,” Bensel told WWLTV. “Completely inaccurate. We asked ESPN to provide us evidence to support their allegations and they refused. The team and Mickey are seeking all legal recourse regarding these false allegations.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Bensel also provided a quote from Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who briefly worked with Loomis.
"This is completely false," Kennedy said according to Loomis, via LAT. "I have sat with Mickey for years, for multiple games and I can say that when Mickey gets up to go walk around during breaks or halftime, I put his earpiece in... it is WWL-AM radio... I know this, because I have heard. Plain and simple."
FBI spokeswoman Sheila Thorne tells The Associated Press that the agency's New Orleans office is aware of the allegations, but wouldn't comment further.
The Saints were involved in another scandal earlier this offseason when the NFL revealed that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams oversaw a bounty program that offered cash payouts to players for knocking opposing players out of games. The news that the Saints were targeting opposing players with intent to injury rocked the NFL.
Williams was suspended indefinitely, while Saints head coach Sean Payton was banned for a year. Loomis was given an eight-game ban and assistant coach Joe Vitt (and now interim head coach) was suspended for the first six games of the upcoming season.
While the investigation into these latest allegations against Loomis is still ongoing, the NFL has faced similar problems before.
In 2007, New England Patriots video assistant Matt Estrella had a camera confiscated by the league after he spent time on the New York Jets' sideline during a September game (Patriots won 38-14). The Boston Herald later reported that a Patriots employee secretly videotaped the St. Louis Rams' pregame walk-through the day before Super Bowl XXXVI.
Following a thorough investigation of the scandal dubbed "Spygate," the league found that the team had been spying on opponents. The NFL fined head coach Bill Belichick $500,000, the team $250,000 and forced the organization to give up draft picks.
Although the "Outside The Lines" report admits that ESPN "could not determine for certain" that Loomis utilized the eavesdropping setup allegedly installed in his suite, the debate about possible punishments and repercussions began quickly.
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