Payton, Loomis apologize, promise no more bounties
NEW YORK -- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis apologized on Tuesday for a bounty system uncovered by an NFL investigation and vowed it will never happen again.
The joint statement released on the team's website was the first since the league announced last Friday that it has uncovered a scheme in which former assistant coach Gregg Williams would pay players for injuring rival players.
The league probe found between 22 and 27 Saints players were involved with Williams, now defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, admitting he ran the bounty scheme and apologizing for what he termed a “terrible mistake.”
NFL officials also found that Loomis and Payton did nothing to stop the bounty policy even after team owner Tom Benson was informed about the bounty plan by the NFL last year and asked Loomis to put an end to the scheme.
“We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility,” Payton and Loomis said in their statement.
“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 admissions now make punishments likely for Williams, Payton and Loomis as well as the Saints from the NFL, which could impose lengthy suspensions and fines on individuals and penalize the Saints by denying them picks in the NFL Draft.
The bounty system was in place over the past three seasons, including the campaign when the Saints won the 2010 Super Bowl.
A pool of up to US$50,000 was available for players who inflicted hits that injured rivals so badly they were forced to leave the game, with notable targets including opposing quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. Payments doubled and tripled for injuries inflicted in playoff games.
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