The New Orleans Saints are denying an anonymously sourced ESPN report alleging that general manager Mickey Loomis’s booth was wired so he could listen to opposing coaches’ radio communications during games in the Superdome.
ESPN could not determine if the system was ever used. The report on Monday’s “Outside the Lines’’ said Loomis would have been able to eavesdrop on opponents from 2002 to 2004. The report said the system was disabled in 2005, when the Superdome was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel called the report “1000 percent false.’’ Bensel said the Saints and Loomis “are seeking all legal recourse’’ following the report.
“We asked ESPN to provide us evidence to support their allegations and they refused,’’ Bensel said. “The team and Mickey are seeking all legal recourse regarding these false allegations.’’
Loomis explained his use of an earpiece and described his game-day setup in the Superdome booth in an e-mailed statement. “I have a monitor in front of me in my booth that provides the league issued stats for the game,’’ Loomis stated. “I have a small TV with the network broadcast and I have an earpiece to listen to the WWL-AM radio game broadcast.
“To think I am sitting in there listening and actually . . . doing something with the offensive and defensive play calls of the opposing teams makes this story and the unnamed sources that provided the false information that much more less credible,’’ Loomis’s statement said.
Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was the Saints’ head coach from 2000 through 2005. In a comment the Saints forwarded to the AP by e-mail, Haslett denied knowledge of any system that would have allowed for eavesdropping on opponents.
If the Saints had installed a system allowing them to listen in on their opponents it would have violated NFL rules and also could have infringed on federal wire-tapping laws.
“We were not aware of it,’’ league spokesman Greg Aiello said. “We have no knowledge of the allegations.’’
FBI spokeswoman Sheila Thorne said the agency’s New Orleans office was aware of the situation, but wouldn’t comment further.
Dawkins walks away
Brian Dawkins said his head told him to retire, not his neck. The veteran safety called Broncos coach John Fox to tell him that after plenty of prayer and reflection, he’d decided that 16 seasons - the first 13 with the Eagles - in the NFL was enough.
Dawkins, 38, said he felt he had another year left in him after recovering from a serious neck injury that sidelined him for the stretch run and playoffs last season. But he instead fulfilled one final wish from his NFL bucket list: walking away from the game he loves before being betrayed by a battered body or one too many trips around the sun.
“It’s probably going to sound crazy, but you know the fact that I could play another year gave me a lot of peace to say that this is it,’’ Dawkins said.
Broncos boss John Elway said he wanted Dawkins to play in 2012 but never pressured him to return. “It’s always tough to take that final step,’’ Elway said. “He’ll be missed.’’
Dawkins finished his career in Philadelphia in 2008 as the franchise’s leader in games played (183) and interceptions (34) while spearheading a defense that made the Eagles perennial championship contenders.
Packers cut Clifton
The Packers released veteran left tackle Chad Clifton, saying goodbye to a player who anchored their pass protection for more than a decade. Clifton has been the Packers’ primary left tackle since 2000, starting 160 games over 12 seasons with quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. He started only six games last season because of hamstring and back injuries. It was not immediately clear whether Clifton will retire or try to play for another team. The Packers also announced the re-signing of outside linebacker Erik Walden . . . Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer signed the contract tender that goes with the franchise tag. Spencer is guaranteed to make about $8.8 million next season . . . The Saints signed 42-year-old place-kicker John Kasay to a one-year contract and will bring him back to compete with Garrett Hartley for the starting job . . . The Bears signed guard Chilo Rachal to a one-year contract. Rachal played in 55 games for the 49ers the past four seasons, starting 38 games . . . Free agent linebacker Bryan Kehl signed with the Redskins after spending the last two seasons in a backup role with the Rams . . . The NFL’s Management Council voted to expand rosters for the offseason and preseason to 90 players. Previously, the limit was 80. The first cutdown, in late August, will be to 75, with the final cut after the last of four preseason games bringing rosters to 53.