Thearon W. Henderson
The year-long suspension is over for the Saints' head coach.
The reinstatement ends a season-long suspension for his alleged involvement in the Saints bounty scandal. The suspension was scheduled to run through the 2013 Super Bowl, but it was ended two weeks early courtesy of Goodell.
Goodell said Payton "pledged to uphold the highest standards of the NFL" during a meeting Monday, according to the league's official news release:
"We had a very productive discussion," said Commissioner Goodell. "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."
It's been a trying season for the veteran head coach. Not only was he suspended for the year, but his contract extension was voided in November because of it. But in December, the Saints and Payton agreed to a five-year contract extension to keep him in New Orleans through 2017.
Payton has been the head coach of the Saints since 2006. In his six years -- not including 2012 -- he's led New Orleans to a 62-34 overall record. In the playoffs, the Saints are 5-3, which includes a victory in Super Bowl XLIV in 2009.