Saints Head Coach Sean Payton Reinstated from Suspension by NFL

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

Nearly one year after being suspended by the NFL for his role in Bountygate, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has been reinstated (via NFL Around the League on Twitter).

NFL reinstates Sean Payton from suspension.

— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) January 22, 2013

In his official statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the decision was made due to Payton's cooperation and understanding of why he was suspended:

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.

Saints owner Tom Benson issued a statement (via shortly after Goodell reinstated Payton:

We are all thankful that Sean Payton has been reinstated. 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 for our fans!

Within the same piece is a statement from Payton, who sounded contrite about the past and ready to move forward with the Saints:

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. Lastly, I feel we have learned from our mistakes and are ready to move forward. I want to thank our owner, Mr. Benson and all of our great fans for the overwhelming support throughout this past year. I am excited to be back as Head Coach of the New Orleans Saints!

This was a whirlwind season for Payton and the Saints. It started off with Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and former defensive coordinator and assistant coach Joe Vitt being suspended for their roles in the pay-to-injure scheme.

In November, it was reported that the NFL voided the contract extension that Payton agreed to in 2011 due to some language in the contract that allowed him to leave if Loomis was suspended, fired or left the organization.

Eventually, the Saints and Payton worked out all the language in the contract, and he officially signed a five-year extension to remain head coach with this team when reinstated. 

On the field, the Saints were a mess in 2012. They dug themselves an 0-4 hole to start the season and finished 7-9. The defense was a disaster, finishing 31st in points allowed (28.4 per game) and last in yards allowed (440.1 per game).

With Payton back in the fold, the Saints can start to prepare for the 2013 season and try to get back on top of the NFC South.