Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 3/6/12

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis issued a joint statement on Tuesday accepting full responsibility for the team's role in the bounty system.

"We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch," the pair said.

"This has brought undue hardship on (Saints owner) Mr. (Tom) Benson, who had nothing to do with this activity. He has been nothing but supportive and for that we both apologize to him."

The comments are the first from Payton and Loomis since an NFL report on Friday detailed that the Saints were running a bounty system which financially benefited players for injuring their opponents.

"These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game," the pair's statement said. "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."

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams issued an apology for his role late Friday.

"It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it,” said Williams, who is now the defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams.

“Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again."

A lengthy investigation by the NFL's security department confirmed the program on Friday, which was in place for the past three seasons and funded primarily by the players.

Williams implemented the program, in which a player would receive $1,500 for a "knockout" hit and $1,000 for a "cart-off" the field hit.

Saints players also received bonuses for fumble recoveries and interceptions, a violation of league policy on non-contract bonuses. The league said 22 to 27 players participated in the program.

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