The Saints have their head coach back.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello announced Tuesday morning that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reinstated Payton from his suspension effective immediately. Aiello told PFT that there was nothing to report on Payton’s reinstatement a week ago while also refuting a report that there would be no action taken until after the Super Bowl. There was a meeting on Monday between Payton and Goodell, which led to the end of the suspension right away.
That means Payton is now free to attend the Senior Bowl, hire assistants to fill holes on his staff and otherwise resume the duties of being the head coach of the Saints. Per Aiello, he “acknowledged in the meeting his responsibility for the actions of his coaching staff and players and pledged to uphold the highest standards of the NFL.”
“We had a very productive discussion,” said Commissioner Goodell in a statement. “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.”
The Super Bowl is taking place in New Orleans, of course, and there’s been a lot of discussion about the frosty response Goodell was expected to receive from fans that felt he was overly punitive toward the Saints in response to the league’s bounty investigation. A float in one of the first Mardi Gras parades gives a hint of what Goodell might expect. The commish will probably still experience some uncomfortable moments in the Crescent City, but acting on Payton now could temper a little bit of the rancor sent in his direction.