We haven’t heard any public statements from Saints general manager Mickey Loomis or coach Sean Payton after Friday’s revelation about the NFL’s investigation into the team’s bounty program, but signs continue to be strong that they have the support of owner Tom Benson.
Jay Glazer tweeted as much over the weekend and now there’s an Associated Press report quoting a Saints official that reiterates that position. Benson is described as being “110 percent” behind the two men and wants them focused only on the upcoming season.
“The bond between Sean and Mickey and Mr. Benson could not be stronger,” the team official said.
The loyalty to Loomis is a bit surprising because the league’s report accuses Loomis of disregarding Benson’s directive to put an end to the bounty program. As Florio pointed out Saturday, this isn’t the first time that Loomis’ honesty with the owner has been called into question. In the report, Payton was described as being aware of the program, but not directly involved in it, and did nothing to stop it, but there’s no evidence that he and Benson ever spoke about its existence.
Benson’s support of Loomis and Payton fits with the notion that the Saints are doing everything they can to distance themselves from former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Under this argument, Williams carried out the program without the head coach and general manager finding out because of the autonomy he was granted to run the defense. When the Saints found out the results of the league’s investigation, they let Williams leave for the Rams without making much attempt to keep him because they did not want to be associated with the bounty program.
Whether that stance gets them any softer discipline from the league remains to be seen, but, for now, it looks like there won’t be any big shakeup in New Orleans.