Saints head coach Sean Payton, exiled from the team for the duration of the 2012 season because of his role in the team’s bounty scandal, was reinstated Tuesday morning by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Payton’s suspension initially covered the entire 2012 season and he wasn’t due for reinstatement until after the Super Bowl on February 3rd.
In a statement released by the team, Payton was apologetic.
“I, along with Mickey Loomis, take full responsibility for all aspects of our football program,” Payton said. “I clearly recognize that mistakes were made, which led to league violations. Furthermore, I have assured the Commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed.”
The Saints finished 7-9 without Payton this season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Payton is 62-34 in six seasons with New Orleans, including a Super Bowl win in the 2009 season.
“I feel we have learned from our mistakes and are ready to move forward,” Payton said. “I want to thank our owner, Mr. Benson and all of our great fans for the overwhelming support throughout this past year.”
Payton met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday and Goodell termed the discussion very productive.
“Sean fully complied with all the requirements imposed on him during his suspension,” Goodell said in a statement. “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, now that he is free to resume all head coaching-related duties, is expected to attend Senior Bowl practices this week in Mobile, Alabama.