New Orleans Saints

NFL creates appearance of a conflict of interest against Saints

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks to umpire Ramon George during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Atlanta.
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks to umpire Ramon George during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Atlanta. AP

A pair of stories came to light Sunday that likely will make people in New Orleans look at the NFL sideways.

The league used a former Atlanta Falcons player on the officiating crew for the Saints game Thursday against the Falcons, and it hired a key member of the so-called bounty scandal to work for the league office.

Whether actual conflicts of interest exist is up for debate, but the optics are going to raise some eyebrows.

Although he wasn’t listed as part of Thursday’s officiating crew distributed to the media, former Falcons player Phil McKinnely served as the down judge during the game in Atlanta.

McKinnely, who played for the Falcons from 1976-80, is not typically part of Clete Blakeman’s crew. The league said the failure to list him was a mistake.

Meanwhile, Fox’s Jay Glazer reported Sunday morning that the NFL has hired former Saints employee Mike Cerullo as a director of football administration.

Cerullo, who was a defensive assistant for the Saints, was the whistleblower who provided the evidence needed for the league to start its bounty investigation against the Saints in 2011. The team said he held a grudge against the organization for being fired.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton responded to the news on Twitter.

“Troubling report by @JayGlazer regarding league hiring of fired @Saints employee,” Payton wrote. “Unbelievable.”

Read the full story at TheAdvocate.com

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