Saints' GM Mickey Loomis allegedly had the ability to listen in on the conversations of opponents coaches during games. (AP)

Saints' GM Mickey Loomis allegedly had the ability to listen in on the conversations of opponents coaches during games. (AP)

You can’t make this stuff up.

Isn’t that the first thing you’re bound to conclude when ESPN reports that the general manager of the New Orleans Saints could sit in his Superdome box with an earpiece and a switch and monitor conversations between opposing coaches?

Next you wonder if everybody does it. Certainly they could. We’ve seen it in the movies. We’ve heard about how various authorities have done it, sometimes appropriately, sometimes not.

There are satellites overhead as I speak, and they see almost everything, and there are drones which their masters can direct to see and hear whatever might have escaped the satellites. A switch in the general manager’s box? Probably easy.

Why shouldn’t we believe that a pro football team – perhaps particularly a pro football team that has already been whacked for paying players to knock specific opponents out of games – didn’t break another specific NFL rule and perhaps a couple of federal statutes into the bargain?

Then there’s the denial.

New Orleans Saints spokesman Greg Bensel called the ESPN report “1000 percent false.”

Wouldn’t “100 percent” have been sufficient? Methinks the spokesman doth protest too much. Ten times too much.

It is said that during the 1940s and ’50s, a man in the scoreboard in the Polo Grounds stole signals on behalf of the New York Giants, and that the most significant beneficiary of that practice was Bobby Thomson, who hit a memorable homerun in the fall of 1951.

In baseball’s Hall of Fame, there are pitchers who threw spitballs long after the game’s guardians solemnly outlawed the pitch.

In today’s NFL, holding occurs much more often than it is acknowledged. Some say on every play.

New rules notwithstanding, lots of soccer players fall down at the least provocation – and sometimes at no provocation. They clutch their healthy knees as if they’ve been shot, hoping for a bogus penalty call.

One thing those phenomena have in common which distinguishes them from what ESPN says went on in New Orleans is that the FBI won’t be investigating sign-stealing, spitballs, holding, or flopping.