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Monday, March 12, 2012
Saints brass meets with NFL

ESPN.com news services

The New Orleans Saints said Monday that owner Tom Benson and coach Sean Payton requested a meeting with the NFL to discuss the league's investigation into the bounty system the team used during the 2009-11 seasons and commissioner Roger Goodell agreed to host team brass in New York.

A team spokesman confirmed the meeting in an email to media members after Benson and Payton returned to New Orleans on Monday afternoon.

The NFL has said former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran an improper pay-for-performance pool, which offered bonuses for big plays as well as big hits that forced opposing players from games or left them needing help to leave the field.

Williams, now the defensive coordinator in St. Louis, has admitted to his role in the program and apologized. He met with NFL security officials last Monday as part of the league's ongoing investigation.

Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis apologized and took the blame for violations that "happened under our watch" last week, almost a week after the NFL pointed to them for failing to stop a bounty program involving some two dozen Saints players.

Payton and Loomis said Benson "had nothing to do" with the bounty pool.

The NFL has said it confirmed Benson was unaware of the program, and that he told Loomis to stop it immediately, but that Loomis did not. The league also said Payton, though not directly involved, was aware of the bounty pool, but did nothing to stop it. Once the investigation concludes -- the league says there is no timetable -- Goodell likely will hand out the stiffest penalties of his 5½ years as commissioner.

The NFL Players Association said last week that it is conducting its own investigation into the bounty program.

Information from ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas and The Associated Press was used in this report.