The New Orleans Saints had hoped general manager Mickey Loomis could remain a stabilizing front-office force following the heavy damage caused to the area by Hurricane Isaac.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell allegedly displayed sympathy – to a point.
A league source told FOXSports.com that Goodell was willing to toll Loomis’ pending eight-game suspension heading into Week 1 of the regular season. Goodell, though, wanted to extend Loomis’ ban to Week 9 rather than throw a small bone to a franchise rocked by severe weather and the bounty scandal that generated team-wide sanctions.
Saints owner Tom Benson unsuccessfully petitioned Goodell to give Loomis a break and waive one week of the suspension under the difficult circumstances, the source said. Goodell didn’t bite, the source said.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment to FOXSports.com in an email late Thursday night because he was unable to immediately confirm the source’s accuracy.
Because of Isaac-related travel concerns, the Saints left New Orleans on Monday and headed to Cincinnati for a Tuesday practice at Paul Brown Stadium. They then picked up stakes for Nashville and the Thursday night preseason finale against Tennessee where a whopping 26 Saints players were declared inactive.
Having to stay in hotels away from team headquarters has added to the adversity New Orleans faces entering the Sept. 9 opener against visiting Washington.
While the storm damage caused wasn’t as severe as in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina decimated the region, Isaac still caused considerable problems and power outages in New Orleans that have trickled down to the families of every member of the organization. The Saints had hoped Loomis could help coordinate efforts to address employee needs.
Even before Isaac came ashore, the seas weren’t calm for the Saints.
Head coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jon Vilma are serving season-long suspensions for their alleged roles in the bounty scandal. Payton accepted his comeuppance in April, but Vilma is fighting the punishment in court after not succeeding via the NFL’s controversial appeal process. A district judge is scheduled to rule next week whether the suspension of Vilma and other implicated players can be temporarily lifted via court order entering Week 1.
Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt is suspended for the first six games. He will be replaced by offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
Like with the suspensions of Payton and Vitt, the NFL considered Loomis culpable for not working hard enough to stop a potentially dangerous illegal pay-for-performance plan the league had discovered was being run for the 2009 to 2011 seasons. Benson, though, not only stuck by Loomis but named him the top executive for his newly purchased NBA franchise — the New Orleans Hornets.