New York, NY – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has reinstated New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, effective immediately.
Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal.
Goodell and Payton met Monday in New York.
"We had a very productive discussion," said Goodell in a statement Tuesday. "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."
Payton can now attend the Super Bowl in the Superdome next week and can resume his duties with the Saints.
"I am thankful today commissioner Goodell has granted me reinstatement," said Payton in a statement Tuesday. "As I stated back in March, I, along with (general manager) Mickey Loomis, take full responsibility for all aspects of our football program.
"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!"
Without Payton this season, the Saints struggled to a 7-9 record under interim coaches Joe Vitt and Aaron Kromer. Vitt was suspended for the first six games of the season for his role in the scandal.
In six seasons at the helm of the Saints, Payton has guided New Orleans to a 62-34 record and four playoff appearances, including the franchise's only championship when it defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
"We are all thankful that Sean Payton has been reinstated," said Saints owner Tom Benson in a statement. "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!"
Payton and the Saints worked out a five-year contract extension through the 2017 season earlier this month. The two sides had originally agreed to an extension last year, but the league rejected the initial agreement due to unspecified language in the contract.