NFC South: Outside The Lines

Sean Payton to be featured on 'OTL'

January, 22, 2013
Just a quick heads-up to let you know that the reinstatement of New Orleans coach Sean Payton will be the featured topic on Tuesday’s edition of “Outside The Lines."

The show is scheduled to air on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET.

I’m scheduled to be one of the panelists.

NFC South evening update

August, 13, 2012
Time for a run through the Monday afternoon headlines from around the NFC South:
  • The Louisiana State Police held a news conference Monday and said no evidence was found that New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis had the ability to listen to the radio communications of opposing coaches. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines’’ previously reported Loomis had that capability before the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was damaged heavily by Hurricane Katrina. A state official said he couldn’t comment on any federal probes. The FBI has not commented on its investigation
  • Apparently, the back injury New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham suffered last week, wasn’t serious. After sitting out the preseason game at New England, Graham was back at practice Monday.
  • On the flip side, New Orleans assistant head coach Joe Vitt said running back Darren Sproles will sit out the upcoming preseason game with Jacksonville with a sore knee. If a player of Sproles’ magnitude has even the slightest soreness, there’s no sense playing in a meaningless preseason game. The Saints already know what Sproles can do, and their main concern should be having him fully healthy for the start of the regular season.
  • Atlanta’s Thomas DeCoud said this is the year he and fellow safety William Moore finally reach their full potential. That would be nice. Each of these guys has shown some flashes of promise in the past, and both have good physical skills. But consistency never has been their strength. But simply having Asante Samuel, Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson in front of them at cornerback should help make Moore and DeCoud look better.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have been very creative in their attempt to sell season tickets, have added another approach. They’ve announced a plan in which fans can buy tickets for half a season.

Report: More trouble for Saints?

April, 23, 2012
In an offseason that has been filled with controversy for the New Orleans Saints, we now have even more.

This one doesn’t relate to the bounty program, but it could have major implications.

[+] EnlargeMickey Loomis
AP Photo/Bill HaberSaints' GM Mickey Loomis, already suspended for eight games next season, could be facing more punishment from the league.
ESPN's "Outside The Lines" just reported that New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis allegedly had an electronic device in his Superdome suite that had been secretly re-wired to enable him to eavesdrop on visiting coaching staffs for nearly three seasons, from 2002-04. That allegedly took place before coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees arrived in 2006. Sources told "Outside The Lines" that the listening system was disabled when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 and not restored. (Greg Bensel, Saints vice president of communications, said Monday on behalf of the Saints and Loomis: "This is 1,000 percent false. This is 1,000 percent inaccurate.")

This is significant on several levels. First, the report suggests that state and federal law might have been violated, and the situation has been reported to the U.S. Attorney in New Orleans. There is no indication yet if any charges will be filed. We’ll wait for law enforcement and the lawyers to figure that out. I won't even speculate about what civil liabilities Loomis and the Saints could be exposed to.

But there are huge potential implications elsewhere. Loomis is suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 season for his role in not stopping the Saints’ bounty program. This latest news isn’t going to persuade commissioner Roger Goodell to shorten Loomis’ suspension.

In fact, this has the potential to lead to a longer suspension, or even more punishment for Loomis and the Saints. Although this incident allegedly took place quite a long time ago, it won't sit well with Goodell. He fined the New England Patriots $750,000 and forced them to forfeit a first-round draft pick for Spygate. You can make a case that listening to opposing coaches during a game is worse than videotaping signals on the sidelines and using that information.

Throw in the whole situation surrounding the bounty system, and I don’t see how this can lead to anything positive for Loomis or the Saints.

Saints owner Tom Benson has stood by Loomis and Payton, who is suspended for the entire 2012 season. But you must wonder if news of more alleged wrongdoing by Loomis might prompt Benson to fire his general manager.

I know Benson has other things going on. He recently purchased the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets. Brees hasn’t been able to work out a long-term contract with the Saints, and that’s not a positive for Brees, Benson or the Saints. The team is waiting to see if players will be suspended for their roles in the bounty program. Benson also reportedly has put his granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc, on unofficial administrative leave. LeBlanc had been viewed as the heir apparent to Benson, but it doesn’t sound as if the owner is anywhere near ready to step aside.

That might be a good thing, because the Saints have all sorts of turmoil to deal with. Someone must clean up this mess. It’s Benson’s team, so we’ll wait and see where he goes from here.

This offseason just keeps getting worse for the Saints.

Saints scandal featured on 'OTL'

March, 22, 2012
If you want to hear more on the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal, you might want to tune in to ESPN at 3 p.m. ET.

There will be a special edition of “Outside The Lines" focusing on the Saints’ situation. I don’t know details of exactly what will be discussed.

But I’ll be watching to see if there are any new developments.

In related news, Sen. Dick Durbin is setting up a Judiciary Committee hearing about bounties in the NFL and other major sports in the wake of the news about the Saints.

Video: Sins of a father

January, 31, 2010
Kelly Naqi reviews the tragic saga that put former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth behind bars, and left a boy without parents.
Just received word that “The Rae Carruth Story: 10 Years Later’’ will air on Outside the Lines on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN.

Here’s the quick summary that was sent out as part of the preview:

“A decade after then-Carolina Panther's receiver Rae Carruth commissioned the shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend, the couple's son delivered at six months in the aftermath of the shooting, suffers from cerebral palsy. The bullets missed the unborn baby, but oxygen to his brain was cut off. Now, 10, Chancellor Adams has learned to walk more than 150 steps without assistance. And the man who pulled the trigger that fateful day is seeking forgiveness for committing the crime that landed him a 50-year prison sentence. For his part, Carruth is not talking.’’

Carruth has refused all media requests since the incident took place. “The man who pulled the trigger’’, according to what transpired in the trial is Van Brett Watkins and he does speak. Watkins confessed to the shooting and testified against Carruth to avoid the death penalty. If you remember anything about the trial, you’ll recall that Watkins is a very outspoken person. That hasn’t changed.

“I don't like Rae Carruth. I probably would do something to Rae Carruth if I seen him,’’ Watkins said in a television interview from prison.