We begin this morning with a headache of headaches for the New Orleans Saints, a story the team has fervently denied, but one that isn't going away unless the Drug Enforcement Administration makes it go away.
The story involves the dispensation and alleged theft of 130 Vicodin tablets from the Saints' drug locker at the team's offices and training facility in New Orleans over a four-month period early in 2009. A lawsuit filed by discharged former Saints' security director
I've read the
The allegations in Santini's suit, in essence, include these: Vitt had a medical problem that required the use of pain-killers and he was being prescribed Vicodin to help him deal with the condition; Payton didn't have a medical condition that required pain-killers but was using them. Additionally, Santini said Saints general manager
Every NFL team has to account for the prescription drugs it dispenses. The training staff keeps medication under lock and key and distributes it only after a team doctor prescribes it. Apparently, Vitt was being prescribed Vicodin -- it's possible that Payton, at some point, may have been taking it as prescribed, too. The lawsuit makes it clear that from January to April 2009, a theft of approximately 110 Vicodin tablets occurred from the drug locker. Santini's suit says Loomis directed a hidden camera to be installed in the trainer's room, so any further theft of Vicodin could be captured on video.
On the morning of April 30, 2009, according to the suit, Santini was informed that eight pills were missing from a Vicodin bottle of 100 pills. The videotape showed Senior Staff Member B -- Vitt -- using the keys from trainer
When Santini told Loomis about the theft, the suit alleges, Loomis told Santini and the trainers "to keep all of this confidential ... Plaintiff then told GM Loomis that the video needed to be copied for use during the NFL audit. GM Loomis stated, 'No, this is not a criminal investigation.' Plaintiff told Loomis the event should be reported and without copying the video it would eventually be overwritten by the recording equipment and erased. Loomis told the Plaintiff to 'let it go,' in effect instructing the Plaintiff to allow the destruction of evidence of a felony. Plaintiff then told GM Loomis that the crime should be reported, and he [Loomis] stated 'this is not a criminal investigation.'' GM Loomis left plaintiff's office and plaintiff made a copy of the video onto a video cassette.''
After "SSMB'' was caught taking 12 pills the next day, the bottle was moved to a more secure location. The following day SSMB was taped unsuccessfully trying to gain access to the pills. Santini alleges that Patton, in a meeting two weeks later, was going to adjust the dispensing logs "to reflect that SSMB had received all of the missing Vicodin, such that the totals on the monthly recap sheets would match the total dispensed.'' The suit says that in a meeting the next day, assistant trainer
Payton's involvement in the case seems almost tangential. Most of the accusations concern Vitt allegedly stealing the Vicodin and Santini describing Loomis trying to cover it up. On page six of the suit, Santini asks Mangum, referring to Payton, "How are they going to explain [SSMA]?''
"He's stopped,'' Mangum said, according to the suit. "Somebody has talked to him.''
On June 22, the suit alleges, Patton told Santini he would not change the logs, and a day later, Loomis told Santini the logs would not be changed before being turned in to the NFL for an annual audit. "Later in the conversation, GM Loomis stated that [SSMB] admitted to him that [SSMB] had stolen all of the pills,'' the suit says.
Later, the suit says, "Subsequent conversations ensued between plaintiff and GM Loomis concerning upcoming discussions with the DEA about the situation and the need to keep [SSMA]'s name out of the conversation.''
There you have it. The consequences could be dire for several people -- Loomis, if he's found to have covered up a felony theft of prescription medication; Vitt, if he's found guilty of stealing Vicodin; the trainers, if they're found culpable; and Payton, if he's found to have taken Vicodin without a prescription. Of course, the consequences could be just as dire for Santini if counter-claims by the Saints reveal the story he has told is exaggerated or invented.
"Mickey is adamant he did nothing wrong,'' said a source close to the Saints. "Sean is beside himself -- he swears this is a trumped-up charge.''
Every New Orleans fan this morning -- as well as a nation charmed by the improbable story of the Super Bowl Saints -- has to hope that's true.
It'll be interesting when Jones and Ogden get discussed for Canton in the next few years. When it comes to ranking the best over the past 20 years, I'd put those two in a close race ahead of
As a point of comparison: The last offensive tackle to make the Hall of Fame,
Now the Seahawks hand the left-tackle job to
Look up the retiring punter's bio and the thing that jumps out is this: the number 22. From 1988, when he entered the league as a free-agent punter making $52,000 with
"The Favre streak is insane,'' Feagles said last night, referring to Favre's NFL record 285 consecutive starts. "He's the iron man of football. I'm just the lonely kicker. But I'm proud I was able to go to work for my team every Sunday.'' Late in his 20s, Feagles began a regimen of stretching (professionals stretched him three days a week for an hour; he eschewed yoga) and used chiropractors to stay in shape -- and he never got too far out of shape during the offseason.
Feagles won't go down as the longest punter ever (his 41.6-yard average is 110th all-time), but he should go down as the best directional punter of all time. His hang times are famous -- he once had a documented 5.83 hang time on a practice punt, the highest I've ever heard of -- and he practiced by putting a garbage can downfield and trying to land the ball in it.
"I'm not the strongest,'' Feagles said. "But I can put it where I want it.''
Shouldn't that be the mantra for young punters today? This is a field-position game, and Feagles so often controlled it by kicking it away from foes and pinning teams back. His 554 punts inside the 20 are 173 more than any other punter since the stat has been kept.
I've come into possession of the letter sent by
The letter, dated April 15, reads in part:
Postscript: Six days later, Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for a minimum of four and a maximum of six games, and ordered him to undergo counseling after a comprehensive behavioral evaluation, banning him from team activities until counselors allow him to rejoin the team. The evaluation is likely to be completed soon, but there's no telling when he'll be able to return to work with his teammates.
Once Goodell issued his sanction, Cornwell wrote the commissioner and thanked him and league attorneys
At a time when there's such animus between the league and those who contest cases with it, that's a refreshing conclusion to a contentious case.
I'm hearing California Democratic congressman
Notes on five notables from weekend camps:
Over the weekend, Misi, mostly a defensive lineman in the 4-3 at Utah, was put permanently at outside 'backer. "It was something different than in college and I am ready to play this position,'' he said. "I am open for new things, and playing linebacker is something that I always wanted to play in college, so being able to play it out here is something that is good for me.''
Funny what happens to a guy when he looks in the mirror and sees the end of a promising career. White said Saturday he's determined to win the starting job, which I'm sure is the same thing
We've added a couple of perks to the football event of the spring in New England: the New England Locker Room Luncheon, benefiting the
We're also throwing in three perks (well, the first two are perks, and the third -- well, you decide).
1. One lunch guest will receive two prime tickets to the game of the season, November's New England-Indianapolis showdown.
2. One lunch guest will have Light record a voice-mail greeting on both home and cell phones.
3. One lunch guest will get me, after visiting 21 training camps this summer, as his or her personal fantasy-football consultant. I'll either go with you to your draft, or I'll talk you through your draft before you go in.
Last thing: I'm involved with the Food Bank, and I know the incredible work it does (one in every 13 eastern Massachusetts residents gets food annually from the agency, totaling 31 million pounds of food), and I know the hands-on work Light's foundation does with at-risk teens across the country. Both are very much in need of your assistance. If you can help, I'll be forever grateful. I realize how many needy causes there are in the country, and I thank you for the generosity you've shown the causes (Five for Fighting,
For ticket information, please e-mail
Sneak Preview of the Must-Have Book Dept.: I always love
1. Chris Johnson, Tennessee, 61
A broken tackle, as defined by Football Outsiders, is either a play in which the defender has the ballcarrier wrapped up -- or a play in which the ballcarrier fakes a defender out of his jock. Subjective, but you get the point. It's a good measure of hard runners and elusive runners, at the same time.
"I think the individual who asked that question, somebody ought to whack him in the head.''
"Jeff Ireland is a man of great capability and integrity and he is well deserving of my continued confidence. We are going to take a hard look at our interview practices and we will make improvements that will allow us to get the important information we need about players in whom we are making a major investment, but without being insensitive.''
"I'd rather turn this club into a bar room brawl. Get as rowdy as Roethlisberger in a bathroom stall."
In his 22-year career,
In their combined 36 seasons, all-time rushing leader
Now this is good hotel care: Last Tuesday night, I checked into the Renaissance New York Hotel 57 in midtown Manhattan for one night. (Had some meetings in the city on Wednesday.) I got the key card at the front desk and elevatored up to the room. The bed in the room was made, but the rest of the room was dirty. So I called the front desk and asked if they could either clean the room or move me to another room.
"Mr. King, we're terribly sorry,'' the front-desk person said. "We'll send someone up with a key for another room in a moment.''
Two minutes later, a bellman came up and handed me a key to room 500. Meant nothing to me. "I'm sure you'll like this room,'' the bellman said with a smile. So I went to room 500, a corner suite overlooking Lexington Avenue and East 57th Street, at least 2.5 times the size of the other room, with a nice desk and sitting room. Whoa! The other room wasn't that messy. You've got my business for a long time now, Mr. Marriott.
"Need you to take Olympic drug testing, still don't understand how you stop me 2 weeks straight #seeyouThanksgiving''
The Ocho was held to two catches for 28 yards in eight quarters against Revis. The Bengals and Jets play on Thanksgiving night this fall.
1. I think the Bears have a underrated group of receivers, with
2. I think the one rumor that should be universally debunked is the prospective trade of cornerback
3. I think the
The reason I don't make that a headline is simple: Favre changes his mind as often as I drink a latte. Which is to say, a lot. We've seen it often in the last 26 months. Let's just wait and see what the summer brings. And the fall.
I've said a couple of things as a Favre-watcher this offseason: I'm finished predicting what he'll do, because I've been wrong every time I've predicted recently. And if I had to go to Vegas, based on the long emotional scene with several teammates and coaches in the locker room after the NFC Championship Game loss to the Saints, I'd bet he plays this fall. He loves that team. But please, keep your money in your pocket. That's where mine is staying.
4. I think the most mature thing I've heard
5. I think I might not want to be
6. I think, after what appeared to be a serious Achilles injury suffered by 2008 second-round receiver
7. I think my money's on
8. I think one of the league's really good, and really unknown, assistant coaches was lost over the weekend after leaving an indelible mark on the game. Defensive line coach
"We lost one of the great pass-rush-technique coaches,'' said
I texted Allen Sunday night, asking him for his thoughts on Karmelowicz, and in three minutes this came back: "I just want people to know he was way more than a football coach. His life was more than the game. To be honest, what I will miss the most about Karm is his friendship. He was a great coach and is one of the major reasons for my success today. But above all else, he was a great friend, husband, father and grandfather. I will miss the man way more than the coach. I will always love him.''
Isn't that what you'd want your underlings, or your students, or your peers, to say about you when you're gone? Great tribute by Allen.
9. I think I have one question for Patriots fans: Do you think
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Our prayers, thoughts, karma are with you, Gulf Coast people dealing with the oil spill. What an unending nightmare it is for all of you, careening from one disaster to the next.
b. I liked the rabbit, Conveyance, in the Derby, and I would have been a rich man if the race had been .85 miles long, not 1¼.
c. Got a great tip from a friend of a shoeshine guy on Conveyance. Seriously. The shoeshine guy had picked four straight winners, legend has it, including Mine That Bird. But, hey, when I get involved, all luck and good fortune goes flying out the window.
d. Still can't get over more men 18-to-49 watching the first round of the draft on cable than
e. Coffeenerdness: Tough Sunday night. Tired from a Derby party and assorted other short nights of sleep. Without Starbucks Italian roast at 5 a.m. this morning, this would have been published at noon, not 9ish.
f. As a Red Sox follower, it's been interesting to watch a bad team (so far) struggle to overcome nearly everything. With two outfielders down, they reached to Triple-A to recall 31-year-old minor-league lifer
McDonald pinch-hit a homer in the eighth inning to tie the game, then hit a wall-ball single to win it in the 10th. Then, former Broncos PR man
After an incredible high-school career as a running back, he signed with Texas, ostensibly to replace
I was glad to hear he was a good man from Sox beat people
"All those years riding the buses,'' he said. "I was just hoping I'd have at least one moment, just one, like I had that night in Fenway. In that uniform, for that team, with all the great players on the team, in that historic ballpark, down by two, and you hit a home run to tie it and send it to extras, and then to win it in the 10th ... it's just something I'll never, ever forget.''
He said he doesn't regret taking the baseball road, though he says he'd advise players in a similar circumstance now to go to college and get the experience that only college life, and college athletic life, can provide.
"I was 18, and the money was good for my family,'' he said. "But with all that money comes pressure, and it was tough. I'd tell kids to go to college, mature a little bit, have fun. You'll be a part of that college forever. I mean, when I went on my recruiting visit to Texas, Ricky Williams hosted me. What a great guy. What a great environment. It's natural to look back and wonder what might have happened, but when I signed [with Baltimore], there was no turning back. I didn't look back. That's why this experience is so rewarding for me, playing with the Red Sox. Every day I come to the ballpark thankful for what I have and where I am. I didn't use to have that perspective when I was 20, 21, 22 years old, riding the buses.''
He and Kyle Shanahan and other teammates used to go to the Broncos practice facility back in the
h. While my rotisserie team languishes in 13th place in a 12-team league (that's what it feels like, anyway), I'd like to thank the Los Angeles Dodgers, and
Rivers is a confident guy who sometimes lets his emotions run away on the field, but it's not fair to call a good leader, one who's admired in his locker room and with a good human base, "full of himself.'' I like Rivers and get along well with him, and consider him a good man. It's not the worst thing I've ever been wrong about, but I felt I should make it right.