Coach Sean Payton Takes 'Full Responsibility' for Saints' Bounty Program

Coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints has taken the blame for the NFL team's bounty program, in which players were paid bonuses for especially rough tackles, interceptions, and causing fumbles.

Head coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis took "full responsibility" for the bounty program exposed by NFL investigators, which was then run by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Their joint statement did not mention Williams, however.

"We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility," Loomis and Payton said.

During the statement, both men made sure to defend New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who they said "had nothing to do" with the bounty program. The two men also recognized the serious trouble they are in- serious enough to cost them their jobs, according to some.

"These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game," they stated. "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 "bounty gate" investigation found that former Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams encouraged players to hit especially hard. Players would all put money into a pool, then were paid $1,500 for a "knockout," meaning an opponent could not return to the game. Similarly, a $1,000 bonus was awarded for a "cart-off," meaning a player needed medical assistance to leave the field.

Williams, who now is defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, apologized for the "terrible mistake" he had made in a statement Friday.

"Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it," Williams told the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper. "I take full responsibility for my role. … I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again."

Despite the NFL's exhaustive investigation into the issue, the NFL Players Association vowed to investigate as well, promising they would "vigorously protect the rights of all players."

"Dangerous play and acts on the field by players intended to injure have no place in football. We must do better to ensure that this activity is not a part of our game," the organization stated Wednesday.