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Power Rankings: In wake of Pill-gate, Saints an unsteady No. 1


Updated May 11

The word making its way through the NFL these days is this: The New Orleans Saints, as an organization, have been living it up since winning the Super Bowl.

Can you blame them?

Regardless of his level of involvement in the alleged scandal, Sean Payton has a lot of damage control to do this summer. (AP)  
Regardless of his level of involvement in the alleged scandal, Sean Payton has a lot of damage control to do this summer. (AP)  
After years and years of being a struggling team, complete with the Aints and paper-bags-on-head fans, they should enjoy their success.

But how much is too much? Are they going overboard?

The little things that seem to pick apart a Super Bowl winner could also now be starting to show up. The recent lawsuit filed by former team security director Geoff Santini is full of explosive allegations if true.

They include the theft of Vicodin pills by an unnamed club official and a coverup by general manager Mickey Loomis. The unnamed official has been identified by one website as assistant head coach Joe Vitt. There is also talk that head coach Sean Payton was involved, although he has denied his involvement with Vicodin.

This will bear watching closely. The Saints could be in some trouble here. This case could be damning to the Saints as an organization and especially to Loomis. He could be the one facing the most heat if charges of a coverup are true. After reading the lawsuit, Loomis could be facing some serious felony charges if he helped cover up a theft of Vicodin. That would be a federal charge.


What happens if Payton is found out to have taken Vicodin without a prescription? And Vitt is guilty of breaking into the locked-up cabinet, as the lawsuit contends, and stealing pills?

At issue, according to the suit, are 130 pills. That's not a major case. But it's enough to cause problems for the Saints if Santini's charges are true. As Mike Freeman documented in a recent column here on CBSSports.com, Santini doesn't seem like one to just go out and make false accusations.

He is said to be a standup guy by a lot of people in the NFL, including several I talked to recently who know him well.

So is this case the start of the undoing of the Saints? Only eight teams have repeated as Super Bowl champions. If the Saints are to have any chance, they better hope this mess goes away.

For now, they stay atop the CBSSports.com Power Rankings. This is the last batch before our pre-camp rankings in July, and based on what they've done to improve their team and what they did in winning the rings, it's hard to argue with the Saints at the top.

But I can tell you this: I'm not sure I will have them there in July.

Then again, that might be the least of this team's concerns if any law-enforcement investigation turns ugly.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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