Almost a week after the NFL pointed to them for failing to stop a bounty program involving some two dozen Saints players, coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis apologized and took the blame for violations that “happened under our watch.”
“These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game,” Payton and Loomis added.
“Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans,” Payton and Loomis said in a joint statement Tuesday.
Payton and Loomis also said New Orleans owner Tom Benson “had nothing to do” with the bounty pool.
“We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility,” they said.
The league’s investigation, released last Friday, said the bounty program was funded primarily by players for the past three seasons and was overseen by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. He admitted to running the program and apologized within hours after the report surfaced.
The NFL said it confirmed Benson was unaware of the program, and that he told Loomis to stop it immediately, but that Loomis did not.
Williams now is defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. He met with NFL security officials on Monday as part of the league’s ongoing investigation.
Once it concludes – the league says there is no timetable – Roger Goodell likely will hand out the stiffest penalties of his 5½ years as commissioner.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said before handing out any penalties, Goodell will review the information with his staff and consult with others, including the union and player leaders.
The players’ union has not seen a full report of the investigation, so it can’t be certain if Goodell will levy punishment under the on-field discipline or the personal conduct policy.