"I think it is wrong the way they're trying to paint (Williams)," Daniels told the Post. "He never told us to go out there and break a guy's neck or break a guy's leg. It was all in the context of good, hard football."
Benson responded to the NFL's report saying: "I have been made aware of the NFL's findings relative to the 'Bounty Rule' and how it relates to our club. I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans."
The NFL's most infamous bounty case occurred in 1989 when Eagles coach Buddy Ryan was accused of putting a bounty on Cowboys players.
On Thanksgiving Day, Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson accused Ryan of putting a bounty on Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman and placekicker Luis Zendejas before a 27-0 Philadelphia victory. Ryan and his players denied the charges and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue found no evidence of wrongdoing.
The NFL began its Saints investigation in early 2010 after allegations surfaced that quarterbacks Warner of Arizona and Favre of Minnesota had been targeted. After interviewing several Saints who denied the bounty program existed and after the player who originally made the allegations recanted, the league couldn't prove anything.
However, Goodell said the NFL "recently received significant and credible new information and the investigation was re-opened during the latter part of the 2011 season."
Warner, who retired after the 2009 season, responded to a fan's comment on Twitter that even if the Saints had a bounty program a playoff hit on Warner was clean. Warner tweeted, "I would have to agree with you!!!"
"I don't want to say that there was an attempt to injure, but I definitely think there were games where I could tell you that it seemed that they went beyond what was normal in regard to when they were going to hit me or how they were going to hit me," Warner said on the NFL Network. "Again, not with the intention necessarily of hurting me, but knocking me out of my game to get me to think about things differently. If by chance they hit me and knocked me out of the game, maybe that's a benefit for them."
Favre's agent, Bus Cook, said he was unaware of the investigation until Friday. He said the Saints should have been penalized for several hard, late hits during the 2009 NFC championship game and that he believed the contact was not coincidental.
"It was pretty obvious that the intent was to take Brett out of the game, and it happened the week before with Kurt Warner, too," Cook said. "I don't know anything about whether it was by design or whatever, but I think a lot of people shared that same viewpoint that there were some hits that didn't get called."
Cook, however, said Favre never suggested to him he was maliciously targeted.
"That's part of football, getting hit," Cook said. "Brett never complained to me one way or another."
After the news broke Friday, tackle Joe Staley of the San Francisco 49er tweeted: "Just seeing all the reports about the Saints D. I knew there was something fishy about getting punched in the face during our playoff game"
The 49ers beat the Saints 36-32 in the NFC divisional playoffs.
AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this story.