The NFL released a statement quoting Goodell as saying his decision came after a discussion with the head coach. "We had a very productive discussion," Goodell said. "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."
The NFL's decision was reasonable since this time of year is critical in the preparation for the new season. Coaching staffs must be completed; the Saints must find a replacement for offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. More importantly, it is a time for college all-star games when much of next year's draft class is on full view to coaches and scouts. To the latter point, Payton is undoubtedly on his way to Mobile at this moment to watch Senior Bowl practices and to confer with his coaches.
His first meeting with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo should be interesting, especially after an unnamed defensive player came out Monday saying Spags should be fired. That will not happen, because Payton prefers not to let the inmates run the asylum. However, when is the last time in the Payton era that a player, anonymous or otherwise, chirped about the coaches? The Saints head coach has more pressing things to worry about, especially finding players who can come in and make the defense better. A Spagnuolo defense won a Super Bowl, so it more likely the Saints' situation mirrors the old NFL adage: "Good players make good coaches."
His new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores, at Amazon.com and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com