Loomis vehemently denies allegations

The Sports Xchange
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--Embattled Saints general manager Mickey Loomis met with reporters Thursday for the first time since an ESPN report said he eavesdropped on opposing coaches' conversations via a listening device from his suite at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during the 2002 to 2004 seasons.

Loomis strongly denied the allegations in the April 23 report that cited anonymous sources and triggered an investigation by Louisiana State Police shortly after it was aired.

"I have never asked for the capability to listen to an opposing team's communications," Loomis said. "I have never inquired as to the possibility of listening in on an opposing team's communications. And I've never been aware of any capability to listen in on an opposing team's communications at the Superdome or at any NFL stadium.

"I don't know who made the allegation. I'm angry about it, frankly," he said. "It's not true. I have a clear conscience. That's all I can say. ... The people that know me and know me the best have all come to my defense. They've stated to me that's not true. Maybe that has to be good enough."

--Suspended Saints coach Sean Payton, banned for the 2012 season for misleading NFL investigators looking into a bounty program the team ran from 2009-11, said he looks forward to doing the things he normally can't do during his time away from the game.

After playing in the Zurich Classic Pro-Am on April 25, Payton, whose ban began April 16, said he'll spend more time with his two children and coach son Connor's football team.

Payton said the first week of his suspension was challenging, but then he said he began to move forward.

"There's a lot of things I'm looking forward to doing," he said. "A lot of that starts with your own children and the time that you normally don't have. I'll have a lot more of it."

Payton said the professional side of the penalty was most difficult to deal with. He can't have any contact with anyone associated with the NFL during his suspension, which will last at least until the day after Super Bowl XLVII.

"From a personal standpoint, the friendships you have with your co-workers and your players, I think that's the bigger adjustment than the professional penalty," he said.

--When the Saints made their first pick in the draft late Friday night because they held no picks in the first or second rounds, the name of their third-round selection had a ring to it.

Although his time at LSU was short, University of Regina defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, a 6-4, 324-pounder, spent several months in Baton Rouge in 2009 before being ruled ineligible by the NCAA.

A highly-rated junior college prospect from California, Nicks was at the center of an NCAA probe after he enrolled at LSU.

The school self-reported penalties involving former wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy and his recruitment of the junior college star, which cost it two scholarships and a one-year probation, and Hicks wound up at the University of Regina and played the last two seasons there.

The violations involved improper housing, transportation and phone calls. The NCAA cited LSU's cooperation and quick action for avoiding tougher penalties and a lengthier probation period.

"It's been a long one and a rough one at times," Hicks said of his journey to the NFL. "It's been a journey and I have learned a lot the whole way. I just appreciate everything that has been given to me, and been taken from me because it has made me who I am today."

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Obviously, we've had a lot of things happen. Yes, Sean is missing and we miss him, but we are not unstable. ... We have had 41 wins in the last three years. We are not down. If we are down, I'm happy to be down. We have a good team here and we have great leadership on our team. We have great players." -- Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, on recent events surrounding his team.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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