Before I get to the meat of today’s rant, I have to pose these questions to all of you as the re-trial of Roger Clemens begins to unfold. Clemens is on trial because he allegedly lied to Congress under oath. HOW-EVAH …
Congress lies to the people virtually every time a Congressthing/Senator moves his/her lips in the same zip code with a microphone.
So – - – if Clemens is convicted, should we all find ways to put Congressthings/Senators under oath every time they try to speechify themselves to us?
Do we have enough room in Federal prisons if lying Congressthings/Senators would be sent “up the river” for prevarication?
Many years ago when Bob Dylan wrote songs for other people to sing, music was a kinder and gentler place. At one point, he wrote It Ain’t Me, Babe and The Turtles recorded the song. In part, it said:
You say you’re lookin’ for someone…
But it ain’t me babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe
Fans in New Orleans have to hope that when all of the investigators come “lookin’ for someone” in the latest alleged Saints’ scandal that Mickey Loomis can say at the end of it all, “It ain’t me you’re looking’ for, babe.”
According to an ESPN report, Loomis had a device hooked up in his box in the Superdome from 2002 to 2005 that allowed him to listen in on the dialog amongst the opposing coaches and coordinators. Obviously, Loomis and the Saints deny these allegations in the most vigorous of terms. Moreover, since you can see coaches on the sidelines walking around with wires trailing behind them, you can conclude that the only way to capture all of those communications – - if indeed they were captured – - would be to do a wiretap operation.
Because of that possibility, the Louisiana State Police and the FBI are involved in the matter – - in addition to any involvement by the NFL and NFL Security. Wiretapping is illegal without a court order; that brings the State and Federal authorities into the case. If the alleged timeframe is correct, the statute of limitations may have run out on any potential Federal case but might have a year or so left within the State jurisdiction.
Jim Haslett is now the defensive coordinator for the Redskins. In the period 2002-2004, he was with the Saints in the position of head coach. When asked about these allegations, Haslett gave a “non-denial denial”. His answer only added fuel to the fire for folks who had already decided that they wanted to believe this was true:
“To my knowledge, this concept was never discussed or utilized.”
If that is the best defense that Haslett can offer in this situation, the Redskins need to rethink their coaching staff assignments immediately…
I think the most interesting reaction to this story came from Bill Polian who used to be the GM for the Indy Colts and is now a talking head for ESPN – - where the story originated. Polian did not have much to say about the presence or absence of such a monitoring system; Polian’s remarks minimized the value of any such intercepts:
“There’s something missing here. I don’t know what kind of competitive advantage you could get. Mickey [Loomis] would have to know the verbiage of every other opposing team in order to translate, and then he would have to do it instantly and find some way to communicate with his coaching staff, and get it down to the field in time to be useful. That would be very difficult to do, in my opinion.”
That is an interesting perspective but I did not hear Bill Polian saying anything of the sort when the Patriots taping of opponents’ hand signals during games was a cause celebre. If “knowing the verbiage of every other opposing team” and translating that into sideline calls is such a daunting task, why is decoding hand signals and then getting that info down to the sidelines in time to effect play calls not similarly daunting?
We know that the Patriots did that for the simple reason that they admitted they did that because they thought it was OK under NFL rules. If that action nominally got the Patriots a competitive advantage, then if Loomis did what he is alleged to have done, a congruent advantage accrued to the Saints.
Notice, I did not say that Loomis actually did any of this – - for the simple reason that I do not know if he did. Nevertheless, precedent for a similar kind of behavior exists in the Roger Goodell incarnation of the NFL and the punishment was pretty severe. Bill Belichick paid a $500K fine; the Pats as a team were also fined AND the Pats lost a first round draft pick. Saints’ fans have to hope nothing happens to their team that costs them a first round draft pick; Loomis has to hope he does not have to write a check to the NFL for “500 Big Ones”.
The latest news is that the FBI and the Louisiana State Police are cooperating in a joint investigation of this matter – - and despite their findings and despite any statute of limitations that might preclude any proceedings based on their findings – - such a joint investigation might provide the NFL with a reason to believe that its rules were violated.
The NFL standard for proof is not the same as in a court of law; it is not “beyond a reasonable doubt”. For the NFL, the preponderance of evidence is sufficient. And in this case, the taxpayers of Louisiana and the taxpayers of the US at large will do much of the legwork in terms of an investigation for the NFL. The case may never be heard in front of a person wearing judicial robes – - but the case developed by these law enforcement officers may be heard in an office on mahogany row in the NFL offices at:
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Finally, here is a thought from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“Parting thought: Dolphins cheerleader tryouts were held Saturday. Young women were required to be good dancers, have vivacious personalities and think field goals are awesome.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………