Benson standing by Payton, Loomis

A New Orleans Saints official told The Associated Press that team owner Tom Benson is standing by coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis in the aftermath of the league accusing the team of running a “bounty program’’ designed to monetarily reward players for intentionally injuring opponents.

The league said Benson told Loomis to stop the program, but the general manager did not follow through. The league also said Payton was aware of the program and did nothing to put an end to it. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, has been portrayed as the leader of the program.

The league has said fines, suspensions and the potential loss of draft picks are among the disciplinary actions the Saints could face, but any discipline likely will come from the league. The team official didn’t sound as though any disciplinary action from Benson was likely.

"The bond between Sean and Mickey and Mr. Benson could not be stronger," the team official said.

The team official went on to say the owner is “110 percent behind his guys.’’ The league has said 22 to 27 players were involved in the program over Williams’ three seasons with the Saints. Those players also could be subject to fines and suspensions.