Saints owner backs coach over bounty scandal
NEW ORLEANS NEW ORLEANS Saints owner Tom Benson isn’t backing off his support of his general manager and coach, even as his team is accused by the NFL of maintaining a bounty program me to injure opponents.
While Benson cooperates with NFL officials in their investigation of the bounty program that spanned the last three seasons, he is standing behind general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton—even though the league says they knew about the bounties.
“The bond between Sean and Mickey and Benson could not be stronger,” a team the official said on Monday on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still ongoing. “(Benson) is 110 percent behind his guys.” The NFL investigation found between 22 and 27 defensive players on the Saints, as well as former assistant coach Gregg Williams, maintained a bounty system for inflicting injuries on targeted players.
Former defensive coordinator Williams has admitted to running the pool, and the NFL’s investigation concluded that Loomis and Payton did nothing to prevent it, even after Benson was alerted of the pool by the NFL last year and asked Loomis to put a stop to it.
“The team completely understands the ramifications, is taking the matter very seriously and has cooperated fully with the league,” said the Saints official.
“Benson is in constant contact with (Commissioner) Roger Goodell and his office, yet he remains steadfast in his support of Mickey and Sean, and his focus is on the upcoming free agency, making the team better and hosting the Super Bowl. … We have a lot of positive things on our plate that we have to get working on.” The NFL’s report said the Saints maintained a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the last three seasons. Payoffs were made for inflicting game-ending injuries on targeted players, including quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner