Saints GM Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton released a statement Tuesday regarding the NFL's investigation into the Saints' bounty program:
"We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch," Loomis and Payton said in their statement. "We take full responsibility.
"This has brought undue hardship on Mr. Benson, who had nothing to do with this activity. He has been nothing but supportive and for that we both apologize to him.
"These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game. 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."
The Saints are facing discipline from the NFL for violating the "bounty" rule. Between 22 and 27 defensive players were involved in a "Pay for Performance" program that involved "bounty" payments to players for inflicting injuries on opposing players. The program took place during the 2009, '10 and '11 seasons. This was the first public statement made by Payton or Loomis since the findings were released March 2.
According to the league's investigation, owner Tom Benson directed Loomis to discontinue the program, but the league found that Loomis did not carry out Benson's orders. Loomis denied knowledge of the program when the league first discussed it with him in 2010.
Payton was not a direct participant in the program, per the NFL's report, but he was aware of the allegations and "did not make any detailed inquiry or otherwise seek to learn the facts, and failed to stop the bounty program."
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams led the program and reportedly met with league officials on Monday in New York. Reports have come out of his former stops in Washington and Buffalo that bounty programs existed there as well. Williams left the Saints to become the Rams' defensive coordinator after the ’11 season.