NFL finds Saints maintained illegal bounty program - severe penalties expected

NEW ORLEANS —An investigation by the NFL has found that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams maintained a “bounty” program in violation of league rules from 2009-11, including cash for injuring players and knocking them out of games.

The NFL’s security department found that payments were doled out the past three seasons with the “bounty” pool reaching as high as $50,000 at the program’s height in 2009, the season the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Saints owner Tom Benson issued a statement shortly after the NFL released its findings, saying, “I have been made aware of the NFL’s findings relative to the Bounty Pool and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans.”

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton were unavailable for comment and players could not be reached for comment.