Other than a couple of jokes this afternoon on Twitter (mostly at John Fox's expense) I truly feel for fans of the New Orleans Saints. Fans don't have any control over what an organization, or a few individuals at the top do- yet they're the ones who have to shoulder the burden for these indistretions.
As it stands the new allegations against the Saints are fairly vague, mostly centered on a report by 'Outside the Lines', but here is the 'Cliffs notes' version.
- Between 2002-04 Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis allegedly used a 'listening device' to eavesdrop on opposing coaches during games.
- The report states this practice ceased in 2005 when the communication lines were disconnected in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.
- The statute of limitations on such actions, if true, would not extend to 2012.
The initial knee-jerk reaction is to compare this to the New England 'spy-gate' scandal, and while it's an easy comparison to make, in practice what Loomis did, or didn't hear couldn't have really given his organization a competitive edge. We'll look at that...
After the jump
As it's been pointed out by Bill Polian, and our own Greg Olsen- unless Loomis and the Saints knew specific terminology for all 32 teams hearing what they had to say would have little effect. For example, in a West Coast Offense you may hear the following:
"Blue right 426 Omaha, on Two"
Unless you know what 'blue', 'right', '426', 'Omaha' and 'two' refer to then you wont be able to communicate anything to the coach that could help in the few seconds you have from the break of the huddle to the time the ball is snapped. Perhaps you could spend the time poring over every play to look for corrolations, but in the scheme of things it really wouldn't help.
However, he could learn information about injuries, substitutions, alignments and get an overall feeling for the mood on the opposing sideline. Hearing something as simple as "Player X is killing us" could give a ton of information.
Regardless the reason eavesdropping is illegal, and if the allegations are true it's detestable that any team would stoop to spying, no matter what the purpose was.
For now I'm going to lay off the Saints because none of us really know what happened. ESPN have a couple of anonymous sources, and as most know when it rains it pours. There are always those looking to piggy-back on a big story to get their fifteen minutes of fame. I'm approaching this as a curiousity, but little more. It looks like this took place eight years ago, and doesn't really have an effect on the present.
Where this could get interesting though is the 2013 draft. The NFL will have ample time to investigate these new allegations, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Saints lost more draft picks if it turns out these reports are true.