Tom Benson backing his GM, coach

Tom Benson is unwavering in his support of Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton as the NFL continues its investigation into bounties the New Orleans Saints ran for three seasons under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Benson, the team’s owner, remains behind his general manager and coach even though the NFL report stated Benson at one point instructed Loomis to discontinue the bounty program, and order that on at least some level was ignored.

The bond between Sean and Mickey and Mr. Benson could not be stronger,'' a club official told The Associated Press. ”(Benson) is 110 percent behind his guys.”

The investigation began with the Saints, Williams and 22 to 27 defensive players. Williams has admitted to running the program and Payton and Loomis had knowledge of what was going on.

“'The team completely understands the ramifications, is taking the matter very seriously and has cooperated fully with the league,” the Saints official told AP. “Mr. Benson is in constant contact with (Commissioner) Roger Goodell and his office, yet he remains steadfast in his support of Mickey and Sean, and his focus is on the upcoming free agency, making the team better and hosting the Super Bowl. ... We have a lot of positive things on our plate that we have to get working on.”

The Saints, who at times had a bounty pool of $50,000, could potentially forfeit multiple draft picks, including a 2013 first-round pick. The club is without a first rounder this year. Steep fines and suspensions could also be handed down.

An announcement on punishments should come before the end of the month.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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