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                       === Goodell reinstates Payton ===
 
 New  York, NY (Sports Network) - 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.
 
 01/22 10:57:50 ET