Saints coach Payton takes responsibility for bounty scandal

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton issued a statement Friday about the team's bounty scandal, which led to his being suspended without pay for the 2012 season.

"I share and fully support the League's concerns and goals on player safety. It is, and should be paramount," Payton said on the team's official website.

"Respecting our great game and the NFL shield is extremely important to me. Our organization will implement all necessary protections and protocols, and I will be more vigilant going forward. I am sorry for what has happened and as head coach take full responsibility. Finally, I want to thank Mr. Benson, our players and all Saints fans for their overwhelming support."

The NFL also suspended former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely as part of the severe punishments it handed down Wednesday.

Also, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended without pay for the first eight regular-season games and Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt was suspended without pay for the first six.

New Orleans will also forfeit second-round draft picks in 2012 and '13 and was fined $500,000 in the wake of the league's discovery that players utilized a bounty program from 2009-11 that included payments to players for inflicting game-ending injuries on competitors.