The (Potentially Scandalous, Potentially Frivolous) Saints Vicodin LawsuitS

So Sean Payton and another coach are accused of raiding and abusing the team's medicine cabinet. And the security director making the allegations is accused of blackmailing the team. Tricky stuff. This calls for a breakdown.

Let's run through this lawsuit inverted pyramid style, with the 5 W's, and perhaps we'll all be a little closer to sorting out exactly what's going down here.

Who: Geoff Santini, a retired FBI agent, and former security director for the Saints. He resigned in August, forced out, he claims, because he refused to go along with a cover-up of Vicodin abuse by two senior staff members.

"Senior Staff Member A" and "Senior Staff Member B" are the ones named in Santini's suit, but within hours, it became clear that they were Sean Payton and linebacker coach Joe Vitt, respectively.

What: Vicodin, delicious Vicodin. Prescribed to Vitt because he had a legitimate condition, though his usage allegedly spiraled out of control. And allegedly prescribed to Payton, because...well, because he's the head coach, and he wanted it.

Where: The Saints' facility in Metarie. More specifically, a locked drug cabinet. Vitt is accused of stealing pills from the cabinet, which is supposedly caught on a hidden camera. The suit claims he attempted to raid the cabinet a third time, but was thwarted, perhaps by a new lock.

When: A four-month period in early 2009, when about 130 Vicodin pills went missing, according to Santini. While Vitt is accused of stealing some, they were also distributed legally to Payton, though at a level head trainer Scottie Patton allegedly characterized as "abuse."

Why:Santini claims in the lawsuit that he was instructed to cover up the abuse by GM Mickey Loomis in advance of an NFL audit, and to keep Payton's name out of conversations with the DEA. After resigning, Santini allegedly threatened to file the lawsuit unless it was settled quietly, for a healthy sum of money. The Saints refused, and the suit was filed Friday. So here we are.

This is one of those suits where we're actually reserving judgment, instead of just claiming to because we're supposed to. On one hand, it sounds like a classic disgruntled employee, looking for cash (initially $2 million, according to Florio). On the other hand, Santini claims to have hidden camera footage of Vitt raiding the medicine cabinet, and hidden microphone recordings of conversations with Patton, Loomis and others about the cover-up. If he can produce those, then maybe we've got a full-fledged scandal on our hands here.

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton denies he ever abused or stole any pain medication [Times-Picayune]