Saints coach Mickey Loomis reinstated by NFL
Sean Payton’s reinstatement took the New Orleans Saints executives by surprise, since Payton’s suspension was officially due to end after the Super Bowl on Feb.3. But after the Roger Goodell and Sean Payton met on Monday where he acknowledged responsibility his part in the bounty program, the NFL Commissioner decided lift the suspension two weeks early than expected.
"I am thankful today commissioner Goodell has granted me reinstatement," Sean Payton said in a statement released by the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday. "As I stated back in March, 'I, along with Mickey Loomis, take full responsibility for all aspects of our football program.'”
"I clearly recognize that mistakes were made, which led to league violations,” continued Sean Payton. "Furthermore, I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed."
The NFL awarded varying suspensions to New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, assistant head coach Joe Vitt, Sean Payton, as well as four current and former players including Jonathan Vilma for their role in the bounty program. The player suspensions were eventually overturned by Roger Goodell’s predecessor Paul Tagliabue.
During the course of its investigation, the NFL found that the New Orleans Saints were running a performance pool offering cash rewards to players for key plays, including big hits that to potentially injure or knockout opponents from the game. The NFL claimed that Sean Payton failed to put an end to the bounty program even after he was informed by the league.
"Coach Payton acknowledged in the meeting his responsibility for the actions of his coaching staff and players,” Roger Goodell said in a statement on Tuesday, “and pledged to uphold the highest standards of the NFL and ensure that his staff and players do so as well. Sean fully complied with all the requirements imposed on him during his suspension.”
During Sean Payton’s absence, the New Orleans Saints who combined for a 37-11 record made consecutive playoffs runs over the past three seasons, including a the 2009 Super Bowl title, struggled with an inconsistent offense and lackluster defense. The New Orleans Saints never recovered form a 0-4 start, finishing the season on 7-9 and missing the playoffs.
The New Orleans Saints were relieved to get their Super Bowl winning coach back to begin the next step towards revitalizing the team after they signed a new five-year contract with Sean Payton earlier this month.
"We are all thankful that Sean Payton has been reinstated," said New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. "We have a lot of work to do and we are in the middle of it right now."
Mickey Loomis and Joe Vitt are currently in Mobile, Ala., evaluating top college players preparing from the NFL Draft. Sean Payton can resume his coaching duties immediately, and will probably be starting with the Senior Bowl on Saturday.
The 49-year-old Sean Payton also has the task o conducting interviews for a key position on his coaching staff after former offensive line and running coach Aaron Kromer left for an offensive coordinator opening in Chicago.