METAIRIE, La. — Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was given the opportunity Thursday to speak his mind about the bounty scandal that has put a dark cloud above the franchise for nearly the past two months.
He didn’t bite.
“The commissioner has spoken and we respect his decision,” Loomis said Thursday, his first time speaking with local media since the NFL originally released its findings on March 2. “The penalties for us have been determined and it’s our job to move forward.”
Loomis wouldn’t talk about whether he agreed or disagreed with any of the NFL’s allegations.
But in moving on, the Saints will have to go forward during this weekend’s draft without knowing the penalties the players will face.
That won’t be a problem, Loomis said.
“That’s so speculative that we’re not putting any consideration into what may or may not happen,” Loomis said. “We just don’t know so we’re better off just drafting as we would if there were no penalties.”
Loomis is suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season along with assistant head coach Joe Vitt for the opening six games. Additionally, head coach Sean Payton will miss the entire season while serving a suspension and the franchise was fined $500,000 and docked their second-round pick this year and next.
Between the Vicodin scandal of 2010, the bounty scandal and now the eavesdropping scandal, it would be easy to see that Saints as having an image problem.
The general manager said those inside the franchise know the truth.
“One of the disappointing things for me is that our team and our organization has been painted with a pretty broad brush,” Loomis said. “We’re the evil empire right now, is the sense that I get. And yet I know this. The character of our players and our staff and our coaches is as good as anyone at any sport at any time. I firmly believe that. I’ve seen it firsthand.
“I know what our players have meant to the community, the efforts that they’ve put into our community over the last 6 or 7 years and the things they do on an everyday basis. It’s disappointing to me that this brush that they’ve been painted with is just incorrect.”
To back up his point, Loomis said to look at the players the Saints have signed this offseason, all with the bounty scandal hanging over the franchise.
“They don’t see us as an (unstable) organization,” Loomis said. “They see us as a damn good team that they want to be a part of.”