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Posted at 08:19 PM ET, 03/23/2012

Sean Payton says he takes ‘full responsibility’ for New Orleans Saints bounty scandal

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton said Friday that he is “sorry for what has happened” and takes “full responsibility” for his role in the bounty scandal that led to his season-long suspension imposed by the NFL.

Payton issued a written statement through the Saints two days after the league announced his suspension.

“I share and fully support the League’s concerns and goals on player safety. It is, and should be paramount,” Payton said in the statement.

“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.”

The league also suspended Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. The suspensions are without pay. The team was fined $500,000 and stripped of two second-round draft picks.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, was suspended indefinitely. His case is to be reviewed after the season. Saints owner Tom Benson was cleared of wrongdoing in the league investigation of the bounty system, under which Saints defensive players received cash payments for hits that injured opponents the last three seasons, and was not disciplined by the NFL.

“I am sorry for what has happened and as head coach take full responsibility,” Payton said in his statement.

“Finally, I want to thank Mr. Benson, our players and all Saints fans for their overwhelming support.”

More on the bounty scandal:

NFL hits Saints with severe penalties

Boswell: NFL’s appeal could be its undoing

Can the Saints succeed despite suspensions?

Case sparks player debate over whether it was ‘snitching’

By  |  08:19 PM ET, 03/23/2012

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