NEW ORLEANS (CBSDC/AP) — Sean Payton’s season-long suspension from the NFL is over, effective immediately.
The New Orleans Saints head coach met with Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday and was informed shortly thereafter the suspension has been lifted.
According to a statement released by the league, Payton acknowledge his responsibility in a “pay-per-hit” scandal that became known as Bounty Gate, which also involved former Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
With the suspension lifted, Payton is free to attend the Senior Bowl this week.
“Sean fully complied with all the requirements imposed on him during his suspension,” Goodell said. “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 recently signed a five-year contract extension that will keep him in New Orleans through 2017.
Payton has guided the most successful period in the franchise’s history, leading the Saints to three NFC South division titles and four postseason appearances. Two of his teams advanced to the NFC Championship and the 2009 squad won Super Bowl XLIV.
Payton is the only coach in Saints history to win a Super Bowl. But his legacy was tarnished by the NFL’s bounty probe, as Goodell ruled that Payton failed to exert proper institutional control over a cash-for-hits bounty program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009-2011.
Although the Saints objected to the characterization of what coaches and players have said was nothing more than a performance pool for big plays, Goodell suspended Payton for the entire season. The commissioner also suspended Loomis for half of the season and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games.
Payton is 62-34 in regular-season games as Saints coach and 5-3 in the postseason. During the three seasons before his suspension, the Saints won 41 regular-season and playoff games combined, more than any other team in the NFL.
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