Skip to main content

Saints admit to 'bounty' program

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:39 AM EST, Wed March 7, 2012
Former New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams talks with players during Super Bowl XLIV.
Former New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams talks with players during Super Bowl XLIV.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Saints leaders apologize to the team's owner for "undue hardship"
  • Team's head coach, general manager say bounty program happened on their watch
  • "We understand the negative impact it has had on our game," they say
  • NBA's Charles Barkley says he once offered a basketball bounty

(CNN) -- The New Orleans Saints admitted Tuesday to paying bonuses for hits that would knock opposing players out of a game, vowing the practice won't be repeated.

Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis said they take "full responsibility" for the practice, which they said "happened under our watch."

"These are serious violations, and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game," Loomis and Payton said in a statement issued Tuesday evening.

"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."

NFL expands probe in bounty scandal
Football can be 'violent' without bounty
Reese: We never tried to injure players

Opinion: 'Bounty' system stemmed from fans' lust for violence

The National Football League reported Friday that the Saints paid defensive players a bounty for injuring opponents, as well as making interceptions and fumble recoveries, during the 2009-2011 seasons. The program involved as many as 27 players and at least one assistant coach, the league concluded.

The league said the program was administered by then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, with knowledge of other coaches. Players regularly contributed cash to a pool, which may have topped $50,000 at its peak.

The players were paid $1,500 for a "knockout," when an opposing player was not able to return to the game, and $1,000 for a "cart-off," when an opposing player had to be carried off the field. In some cases, particular players on the opposing team were targeted, the NFL said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has received the results of the investigation and will decide on discipline, which could include fines, suspensions and forfeiture of draft choices.

Saints owner Tom Benson said Monday the team cooperated with investigation and called the findings "troubling." In their statement, Payton and Loomis said they were sorry for the "undue hardship" the violations had caused Benson, "who had nothing to do with this activity."

In a statement released Friday, Williams called the bounties "a terrible mistake" that he knew was wrong.

"Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it," Williams, now a defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, said in a statement quoted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper. "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."

The disclosure has ignited controversy among football fans nationwide -- and Tuesday, former NBA star Charles Barkley said he had taken part in a bounty program during his basketball playing days in the 1980s.

Barkley, now a commentator for CNN sister network TNT, said in an online interview that he had called on teammates to knock out an opposing player whose team was beating Barkley's Philadelphia 76ers by a 30-point margin. He put the bounty amount at $5,000 but would not identify the player or opposing team.

"We were getting beat by 30 or 40, I can't remember," he told interviewer Dan Patrick. "This guy was shooting threes and running up and down the court. I said, 'Hey, we've got to hurt that guy right there.' "

Barkley added that "people are clearly going to overreact to the bounty thing," which he said should have stayed among the players.

CNN's Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:38 AM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Click through our gallery of the most dramatic moments from the world of sport.
updated 12:06 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
updated 12:04 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
updated 12:36 PM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Fri April 25, 2014
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
updated 9:08 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
updated 7:54 AM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
updated 6:25 AM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.
ADVERTISEMENT