After a year-long suspension, Roger Goodell and the NFL have officially reinstated New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton well ahead of the previously scheduled time. It was thought that Payton would be reinstated after the Super Bowl on February 3rd, but the NFL has decided Payton’s suspension is over and he’s free to not only attend the Super Bowl but to return to hid duties as head coach of the Saints.
“We had a very productive discussion,” said Goodell. “Sean fully complied with all the requirements imposed on him during his suspension. More important, it is clear that Sean understands and accepts his responsibilities as a head coach and the vital role that coaches play in promoting player safety and setting an example for how the game should be played at all levels. We are committed to delivering football that fans love and the safety players deserve. Coach Payton agrees and I look forward to working with him going forward to do that.”
Payton was serving a season-long suspension for his part in the bounty-gate scandal that has polarized the NFL. More importantly, his absence from the Saints sideline was more than notable this season as it took the Saints until Week 5 to get their first win of the year.
While many believe Payton was unjustly punished for his part in the scandal, the head coach admits that even if he wasn’t directly running the scheme, he allowed it to happen under his watch.
“I clearly recognize that mistakes were made,” Payton said of the scandal that resulted in multiple player and coach suspensions, right up to owner Mickey Loomis. “I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed.”
While Goodell has reinstated Payton before the Super Bowl, he may have done so as to avoid the wrath of Saints fans when he visits the city in a few weeks. One particular float in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade gave a little preview of how well received the commissioner will be when he arrives.
Nevertheless, Payton can now put the bountygate scandal behind him and after a few wins next season, it’ll be like this whole thing never happened.