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Saints deny wiretap charge

The New Orleans Saints denied an anonymously sourced ESPN report Monday that alleges general manager Mickey Loomis' booth in the Superdome was wired so he could listen to opposing coaches' radio communications during games.

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 also said the system was disabled in 2005, when the Superdome was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel called the report "1,000 percent false."

"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."

If the Saints had installed a system allowing them to listen in on their opponents, it would have violated NFL rules and could have infringed on federal wiretapping 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 she wouldn't comment further.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten in New Orleans also said his office had been told about "general allegations" involving the Saints and possible wiretapping, but he did not elaborate. Letten declined to discuss who made the allegations and whether they involved Loomis or other Saints officials.

For the Saints, the report adds to a slew of recent bad publicity, which began in early March when the NFL released a report describing a crunch-for-cash bounty system, which provided improper cash bonuses to defensive players who delivered hits that hobbled targeted opponents.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended head coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season in connection with the bounty probe. Loomis, who did not comment directly on the latest report, was suspended for the first half of the regular season, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt was suspended six games.

The team also lost its second-round pick in this week's NFL draft and was fined $500,000. Goodell took away the Saints' second-round pick in 2013 as well, but he has said he may lessen that punishment if he is satisfied with the club's cooperation in the ongoing investigation.

The NFL has yet to hand down punishment to 22 to 27 current and former Saints defensive players whom the league has said participated in the bounty program.


Around the league

* Brian Dawkins says his head told him to retire, not his neck. The veteran safety called Denver Broncos coach John Fox on Monday morning to tell him that after plenty of prayer and reflection, he had decided that 16 seasons in the NFL was enough. Then, Dawkins announced his retirement on Twitter, where he quickly began trending as fans worldwide expressed their admiration for the mild-mannered family man who transformed himself into a ferocious football player on Sundays.

* The Green Bay Packers released veteran left tackle Chad Clifton on Monday, saying goodbye to a player who anchored their pass protection for more than a decade.

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