Saints coach Sean Payton, who was suspended Wednesday for the entire 2012 season without pay for his role in the team’s bounty scandal, apologized late Friday and took responsibility.

It was his first statement since sanctions were handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who also suspended former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. In addition, Goodell suspended Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games, and the commissioner took away the Saints’ second-round choices in each of the next two drafts. It was the first time an NFL commissioner suspended a coach in league history.

“I share and fully support the league’s concerns and goals on player safety,” Payton said in the statement. “It is, and should be paramount. Respecting our great game and the NFL shield is extremely important to me.”

Payton said the Saints, who were found to have run an elaborate bounty system from 2009-11 that rewarded defensive players for knocking opponents out of games with big hits, would make sure something like this never happened again.

“Our organization will implement all necessary protections and protocols, and I will be more vigilant,” Payton said. “I am sorry for what has happened and as head coach take full responsibility. Finally, I want to thank (team owner) Mr. (Tom) Benson, our players and all Saints fans for their overwhelming support.”

Williams, who had been the Rams’ defensive coordinator before his suspension, has apologized in two statements for his role in the bounty program.

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