Union asks NFL to delay punishing Saints

BY foxsports • March 13, 2012

The players' union wants the NFL to delay announcing any punishment to the New Orleans Saints for their bounty program until it can conduct its own investigation.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told The Associated Press on Tuesday that ''We asked the league to hold off on any punishment until our information gathering was completed.''

The union said last week that members of its legal team would investigate the program the NFL says gave thousands of dollars in payoffs to players for hits that knocked targeted opponents out of games. The NFL said the amounts reached their height in 2009, the season the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Former Saints assistant coach Gregg Williams, now defensive coordinator of the Rams, has admitted to and apologized for running the program.

Saints owner Tom Benson and coach Sean Payton met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday after requesting a meeting, the team said.

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

''These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game,'' Payton and Loomis said. ''Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans.''

Payton and Loomis also said New Orleans owner Tom Benson ''had nothing to do'' with the bounty pool.

Punishments to the Saints, Williams and players involved could include suspensions, fines and loss of draft picks.