Goodell reinstates Payton after missed season

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was reinstated to the National Football League by commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday after missing the entire 2012 season for his role in a bounty scheme.

Fans hold up signs with the face of Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 17, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Payton was reinstated to the National Football League by commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday after missing the entire 2012 season for his role in a bounty scheme.

The move came a day after Goodell met with Payton in New York and more than three weeks after the Saints completed a mediocre 7-9 season under interim coaches Joe Vitt and Aaron Kromer.

"We had a very productive discussion," Goodell said. "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."

Payton and some assistant coaches were suspended for organizing and allowing a bounty scheme under which players would be paid for hits that were so hard they injured opposing players and knocked them out of games.

Vitt was suspended for the first six games of last season for his role in the scandal. Goodell suspended certain players as well but those bans were overturned on appeals.

Payton will be able to attend the Super Bowl next week in New Orleans and resume coaching duties with the Saints.

"I am excited to be back as head coach of the New Orleans Saints," Payton said. "I am thankful commissioner Goodell has granted me reinstatement.

"I clearly recognize that mistakes were made, which led to league violations. I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed... we have learned from our mistakes and are ready to move forward."

Payton, 62-34 in six seasons guiding the Saints, reached a five-year contract extension deal through 2017 with the Saints earlier this month.

"We're all thankful that Sean Payton has been reinstated," Saints owner Tom Benson said. "We have a lot of work to do and we are in the middle of it right now. He is our head coach and we welcome him back. We look forward to a great 2013 season and making another run at a world championship."

The Saints have made four trips to the playoffs under Payton, including a victory over Indianapolis in the 2010 Super Bowl to bring the club its only NFL crown.

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Writer: AFP
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