Was This Former Saints Electrician The Source For ESPN's Wiretapping Story?

FOX8 in New Orleans claims to have identified ESPN's source for the Mickey Loomis wiretapping story, and if they're right, it wasn't anyone intimately connected with football operations. Instead, FOX8 (a station owned by Saints owner Tom Benson) claims it was Tim Landry, a sound and electrical worker who was fired by the Saints in 2007.

This makes all the sense in the world, as ESPN's initial report was heavy on the technical details of the Superdome rewiring and light on how the Saints could have used the information to gain an edge on the field. This discrepancy led to a lot of skepticism on behalf of football folks, but would be easily explained if Outside The Lines's reporting was based on a source familiar with the technical work.

According to FOX8, ESPN's John Barr called radio reporter Kenny Wilkerson looking for information on Sean Payton. Wilkerson gave Barr the contact information for a number of people, including Landry.

This fits in with what we've heard about ESPN's reporting of this story. We've been told by multiple sources that Barr holed up in a New Orleans hotel room for a number of weeks, having been dispatched to dig up general dirt on the Saints—he was not specifically investigating wiretap claims. Barr's tactic, we're told, was to go down a list and call anyone who might have an axe to grind with the franchise. Wilkerson, a longtime Saints broadcaster for WWL, resigned from his job in 2008, reportedly because the team was upset with leaked information he was reporting.

Landry too fits the profile of the disgruntled former employee. He was terminated by the team in 2007, FOX8 reports.

The Saints accused Landry of using their equipment for non-team events, and they found that he gave them improper billings. After those findings, the Saints fired Landry from his contract job.

FOX8 also reports that ESPN had "two or three" sources for their story, and one of them was someone who worked with Landry. They say Landry and his co-worker did not provide any hard evidence to Barr beyond their word.

This brings up the most important point about Outside The Lines's reporting, and explains some of their story's curious wording. Their lede was not that the Saints were wiretapping, but rather that the U.S. attorney's office "had been informed" of the allegations. This is an important distinction, in light of Mickey Loomis's vow to fight the claims, in court if necessary. ESPN can't get in trouble for reporting the former, as long as it's true. How the allegations made it to the U.S. attorney becomes a very important question.

When reached for comment by FOX8, Landry told them "There's nothing to say about it... keep me out of it."